STATEWIDE WAKESPORTS BILL WOULD CAP REGULATION AND LIMIT LOCAL ORDINANCE AUTHORITY WITHOUT ADDRESSING IMPACTS
AB6565/SB680, a bill introduced by Sen. Mary Felzkowski (R-Tomahawk) and Rep. Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander) would set maximum statewide standards on the regulation of wakesurfing and wakeboarding, providing a prohibition of the watersports within 200′ of the shore and 100′ of other anchored boats, landings, or marked swimming areas. Local governments would be allowed to pass ordinances the lessen or remove these prohibitions, but could not enact stronger standards.
WISCONSIN LAKES IS OPPOSED TO THIS BILL
The bill’s standards fall far short of what is needed to reduce the impacts of these watersports to the aquatic environment, private property, and public safety and enjoyment of our surface waters. Sound science sets a distance from shore of at least 500-700 feet and depths of upwards of 30 feet for safe conduct of wakesports. Wisconsin needs meaningful minimum standards with authority retained by local governments to pass ordinances stronger than those minimums.
The bill also fails to address an equally pressing need. The wakeboats most often used in these sports typically contain ballast tanks engineered in a way that they cannot be fully drained of lake water. This leads these boats to be an increased risk of transport of aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels or spiny water flea from one waterbody to the next, violating the spirit, if not the letter of Wisconsin law in regards to spreading non-natives.