Watercraft operators on Brazos River Authority lakes must now operate at a no-wake speed within 100 feet of a shoreline, boathouse, dock or more – an increase from the previous 50-foot rule.
Enforcement of this new on-water rule began Aug. 1, 2022.
The BRA Board of Directors finalized revisions to the regulations for BRA lakes and associated lands in May, including the increased no-wake area. The newly adopted changes went into effect on June 23, five days after the publication of two consecutive-week notices in area newspapers.
Lake rangers at Possum Kingdom Lake, Lake Granbury and Lake Limestone plan to focus on education for the next month and a half first. However, those who break the rules within the prior 50-foot area will receive a citation. All other previous BRA rules will be enforced as usual.
The BRA is being proactive to the disturbances caused by boats traveling too fast and too close to docks. Lots of people enjoy our water supply reservoirs for a variety of activities. It is important everyone has the opportunity to remain safe while having fun.
A no-wake speed is a headway speed that does not create a swell or wake. This means if you're driving a boat or cruising on a personal watercraft, you need to hit the breaks sooner the closer you get to areas where people are swimming, resting on a dock, or enjoying the shoreline. Any boat can create a wake – or a wave created by the passage of the vessel – so don't think it's just the large boats that must take notice.
This doesn't mean the orange and white, tall, slender buoys that have the words, Slow No Wake, will be placed at every dock or boathouse or will dot the shoreline. Boat operators already must know the rules of the water without relying on the regularity of signs that driving on a road might offer.
Wakes can be minimized by avoiding congested or confined areas, staying in the middle of the lake, and if equipped with ballast bags, by draining them while traveling.
Lake officials are evaluating where and if no-wake buoys need adjusting as the No-Wake Zones remain. No-Wake Zones are nothing new to Texas reservoirs. And since 1975, the state has had laws in place within the Texas State Water Code regulating hazardous wake or wash for public safety. Per the Texas Water Safety Act law, a boat operator is always responsible for the wake caused by a boat until it flattens out. This is true for all watercraft, from PWCs to yachts, and especially wake surfing crafts specifically designed to generate large waves.
No-Wake Zones are used to mitigate hazards to boating safety. Hazards to boating safety include known navigational hazards such as narrow shallow waters; areas of obstructed vision; structures in the area such as dams, trestles, power lines, and fueling docks; designated recreational or swimming areas; congested areas with high traffic (like marinas); or perhaps areas with a history of accidents.
However you're enjoying the reservoir on a boat, just remember to watch your wake.
The Board initially reviewed proposed revisions to the regulations at its March 2022 meeting. The revisions were then posted online to allow the public 30 days to comment. There were 21 comments, and a few prompted additional changes, Riley Woods, BRA senior staff counsel, told the Board. The last time revisions were made to the document was in 2014. The regulations were then posted to local newspapers before going into effect.
Other changes to the document include the addition of a permitting process for commercial on-water facilities. The new process will include a requirement the public have the opportunity to comment on the proposed plan.
To read the full list of regulations, go here.
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