Hello PLA Community,

I wanted to send out a quick note regarding this bill as I have seen some concerned emails from membership that this bill if approved would prohibit all towables in small and shallow bodies of water.  This legislation targets specifically wake sports and the specific boats associated with that activity.  Wakesports are sports that involve using a surfboard, wakeboard, hydrofoil, or similar device to ride on or in a wake directly behind a wakeboat with or without a rope.

The Province Lake Association supports HP1390.  As you know Province Lake is very shallow and has been unfortunately experiencing .devastating blooms of cyanobacteria over the past few summers.  All boats stir up sediment, phosphorus but wakeboats are particularly destructive.  

I hope this information clarifies the intent of HB1390 and explain why the Province Lake Association supports it.  Reducing nutrients will be a recurring theme in our email broadcasts. 


Jim Aiken 
Province Lake Association

What is wake surfing?
It is surfing on a massive boat wake, close behind the boat, without using a rope. It needs to be done in deep, large lakes to avoid damage. The waves can be 3 to 5 feet high. Note that the type of boat used to make these waves is totally different from a ski boat. Wake surfing boats plow the water at about 10 mph, unlike waterskiing boats, which ride on a plane to avoid big wakes.

Why is wake surfing harmful?
The massive wakes can capsize canoes, kayaks, stand up paddle boards, other boats and water skiers. While surfing, the bow of the boat is so high it can be hard for the driver to see a boat in front of them; this is clearly dangerous. The high wakes can crash against shorelines, damaging docks and moored boats. When surfing, the propeller can be 4’ deep and at a downward angle. The propeller wash can stir up sediment, and damage or uproot vegetation, impacting the lakebed greater than 20’ deep. When sediment is stirred up, many species including loons are unable to locate their food sources. We love our loons. Loons’ eggs are inches above the water; large wakes can wash away these eggs. Phosphorus freed from the lake bottom can fuel algae and bacteria blooms, creating fish kills and noxious odors. Extensive algae blooms in small lakes impacts home values.

What about invasive species?
Wake boats carry thousands of pounds of lake water as ballast. Numerous studies show that even after emptying the tanks, there is still an average of 8 gallons of lake water in the ballast compartments. Invasive plants and organisms can survive many days in the tanks, only to be released into the next lake. Aren’t there already laws protecting us and our lakes? Wisconsin’s hazardous wake statute 30.68 protects people and property. If wakes damage your shore, boat or dock, and you can prove which boat did it, that statute can help.