Personal Watercraft Laws
by Sheriff Dan Hartog
As I write this letter the fishing opener has just passed and with the type of weather we had boat traffic was light. As the weather warms up th boat traffic increases and I was asked to talk about some of the rules and laws concerning boating and other topics in regards to lakes.
If you plan on putting out a swimming area, please make sure the area does not interfere with the watercraft traffic. If you do have any questions about where to put your swimming area, please feel free to contact the Sheriff’s Office.
Just a reminder on lifejackets and a law that went into effect last year. No person may operate a watercraft underway if a child under 10 years of age is aboard, unless the child is wearing an appropriate personal flotation device or is below the top deck or an enclosed cabin. This also does not apply if it is a commercial watercraft where the child is a passenger and the operator is licensed by the State of Minnesota or the United States Coast Guard to carry passengers for hire. It also does not apply if the watercraft is anchored for the purpose of swimming or diving. The key words to this law concerning the lifejacket required for children less than 10 years of ages is that if the watercraft is underway.
Personal Watercraft Laws
In summary, the law requires that:
Anyone operating or riding on a personal watercraft must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved Type I, II, III or V personal floatation device (PFD or life jacket).
Personal watercraft must travel at slow – no wake speed (5 mph or less) within 150 feet of non-motorized boats, shore (unless launching or landing skiers directly to or from open water), docks, swim rafts, swimmers, or any moored or anchored boat.
Operation of personal watercraft is allowed only from 9:30 a.m. to one hour before sunset.
If you tow a person on water skis, or any other device, there must be an additional person onboard the personal watercraft to act as an observer (the observer does not have to be facing backward). The skier/kneeboarder etc. must also be wearing a PFD or there must be one onboard the personal watercraft for the skier.
Factory installed or factory specified wide-field rearview mirrors are allowed instead of an observer when pulling a skier or other device (tube, kneeboard, etc.). The mirrors must be specified by the personal watercraft manufacturer. After-market mirrors, stick-on mirrors, motorcycle mirrors etc. do no qualify for the observer exemption.
If the machine is equipped by the manufacturer with a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch, it must be attached to the person, life jacket or clothing of the operator when underway.
You may not operate a personal watercraft if any part of the spring-loaded throttle system has been removed or tampered with so it interferes with the return-to-idle system.
You must not chase or harass wildlife.
You may not travel through emergent or floating vegetation at greater than slow – no wake speed.
You may not operate a personal watercraft in a manner that unreasonably or unnecessarily endangers life, limb or property.
You may not weave through congested watercraft traffic, or jump the wake of another watercraft within 150 feet of the other watercraft. This includes other personal watercraft.
A personal watercraft rules decal issued by the DNR needs to be on the craft in full view of the operator.
You may not operate a personal watercraft while facing backward.
It is unlawful for the owner of the personal watercraft to permit its operation in violation of the age restrictions.
If you have any questions regarding any water safety laws or rules, please feel free to contact the Sheriff’s Office and we will assist you with answering any questions.
Just to remind you of one other change as of 2005, we did make the temporary water structure permits good for two years. Please look at the year on your permit and if you need to update it contact the Sheriff’s Office.
Thank you for the opportunity to pass this information along to you and have a great summer.
Sheriff Dan Hartog
Personal Watercraft Operator Age Restrictions (*except motorboats)
Less than 13 years of age
•Personal Watercraft (PWC, Jet Skis, etc.) regardless of horsepower •Cannot operate, even with adult onboard
13 years of age
Must either have:
•Someone at least 21 onboard, or •A watercraft operator’s permit and be in visual supervision by someone at least 21
14 – 17 years of age
Must either have:
•A watercraft Operator’s permit or •Have someone at least 21 onboard.
The carp have not been forgotten. The Association decided to hire someone to put the throats back into the inlet and to monitor the result. Anyone interest should contact Bill Schultz (974-8716).
Curlyleaf pondweed has not been a serious problem for several years, perhaps because some northside residents have been cutting the weeds at the critical time. A permit from the DNR is required; Joan Schultz has re-applied again this year – the Association paid the $750 fee. The window to do the cutting is rather narrow as the weed needs to be cut before it forms its turions (seed sacks). Also weather must cooperate. We have the tools (scythes), but help is needed! Those interested should contact Joan (974-8716).
The Association purchased a lawn aerator a couple years ago. It is available, free of charge, to all Association members. It is located in the yellow shed behind Todd Anderson’s garage at County Park #3. Keys to the shed are available from Todd, the Schultzs, Larry Redepenning, Bob Meyerson and Harlan Meints. The rules are you can keep it for 24 hours only, and must clean it off before returning. You also have to sign it out at County Park #3. You will need to put your own weights on top to have it run properly.
Last year the Association reimbursed 91 people $50 each to pump their septic tanks. Hopefully this will become a habit. We have not renewed the offer this year because not all tanks need to be pumped annually. Also, with the sewer issue uncertain, some may be reluctant to proceed with pumping. For this reason and others the Board hopes to have an up or down decision on the sewer issue this year. See the article elsewhere in this News.
Next Board Meeting: 9am, June 17, 2006 at the County Park shelter. The Annual meeting will be held August 19, 2006.
Found: 3 foot plastic wheel of the type used on docks. Contact Gordy Bloomquist at North Breeze Resort (974-8165).
Tornado Alert (Again)
by Pete Hoagland, Pete's Communications, Inc. Willmar (235-0630)
(Editor’s Note: This is an abbreviated version of last year’s article. It merits reprinting because it seems that storms have been getting worse and more frequent. As a result of the article I purchased a weather receiver and it works just great).
As part of our business we sell, install and service warning sirens. In my view spending our Association money on 2 sirens would not be prudent. Coverage around a lake is difficult when compared to covering a city whose population is typically concentrated and can be reached with a, or multiple, circular patterns.
Instead of sirens people around the lake might be better served by weather monitor receivers, particularly those which have a SAME (Specific Area Message Encoders) decoder incorporated into them. SAME messages carry a county specific address (in our case, Kandiyohi County) which the National Weather Service would send for weather events affecting our county. These weather receivers with the SAME decoder are relatively inexpensive (less than $70? At Radio Shack and other stores).
(Editor’s Postscript: You have to be careful not to program too wide an alert area as you may receive more alarms than you want: the device makes a loud noise when a weather alert has been issued. Radio Shack told me their “weather radios” cost $20 - $100, depending on the features).
If you were around the past couple of years you may remember the Battle of the Watershed. A proposal to establish a Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District was proposed by a group from Green Lake. Our Association opposed it because we felt we had been successful at acquiring grants and implementing our own projects. We argued that our watershed and that of Green Lake’s were different. We though the project would not do us any good but only represent another charge on our property tax statement.
Well, we lost the argument. Despite our efforts in opposition (letters, calls, successfully encouraging other entities to oppose it), the Watershed was established. However, we did manage to have one of our lake residents, Gordon Behm, appointed to the Board. Harlan Meints also serves on an advisory committee. To date, the District has just barely started organizing. They are working on a plan and trying to identify key issues and will hire an administrator but won’t have any money until July 1.
According to Behm, Diamond Lake is on the impaired waters list. This is a good news bad news story. The bad news is that new development will have to comply with rules making sure development doesn’t add phosphorous to the lake. The good news is that we are not eligible for project funding to clean up the lake.
Watershed District meetings are open to the public. They are held 7PM the 3rd Thursday of every month at the Bell Tower Plaza in downtown Spicer. The next one would be on June 15. Diamond Lake residents are encouraged to attend for informational purposes. We may also learn of project opportunities. This could be a big deal for us, or just a fizzle – it all depends on the participants.
by Don Coyote
In the last issue of the News we reported that Bob Meyerson, dba Diamond Wind Energy, LLC had hoped that “by the time you read this his wind generator will be operational”. Indeed, it is. Located about 1.5 miles south of Diamond Lake on the gravel road improbably called 135th St., the 120 foot tower with a 20 kw Jacobs generator has been spinning away virtually every day since it was commissioned on January 10, 2006. From that perspective it has been a success.
The financial picture is a little more complicated. Small wind projects such as this one rely on subsidies to make them pay. The local utility must pay at the retail rate, meaning they don’t make any money from it (other than a monthly Access Charge of $24.50).
Because Bob’s project didn’t start producing electricity until 2006, he was unable to claim the production tax credit and the investment tax credit on his2005 tax return. The alternative minimum tax might also come into play and reduce benefits. Because he made his down payment before learning about the availability of grants, he was ineligible to apply.
Bob is working with the Kandiyohi County & City of Willmar Economic Development Partnership on two follow-up projects. The small wind project hopes to spell out Kandiyohi County specific considerations for generators smaller than 40 kw (the cut off size for the mandated retail rate payment). The goal is to produce a guide available at county offices for those interested in putting up a wind generator.
The big wind project is looking into the feasibility of implementing a large scale commercial project. Big wind is a completely different proposition. It involves dealing with a utility regulator, large manufacturers and attorneys. It means negotiating a Power Purchase Agreement with a major utility. It takes time and, of course, money, both of which must be invested before all the pieces fall into place to complete such a project. It is risky business. But our part of the state may enjoy one big advantage: our power lines are not overloaded with wind energy producers as is the case in parts of southwestern Minnesota.
The jury will probably be out for a while. In the meantime, anyone with a taste for financially risky new technology ventures can contact Bob for more details: he’s the one with the arrows sticking out of his back!
State of the Sewer - Important Notice!
Last August a public meeting was held to explore the idea of establishing a sewer system around Diamond Lake. Kandiyohi County Commissioner Harlan Madsen, Kandiyohi County Public Works Administrator Gary Danielson and Brad DeWolfe, representative from the consulting engineering firm of Bolton & Menck explained the proposed system, focusing on the route, equipment, final destination and costs. A number of people in attendance had an opportunity to ask questions and express their point of view. TO say the least it was a highly charged meeting.
While a show of hands indicated a majority in favor of the proposal, the Board of Directors of the Diamond Lake Area Recreational Association decided that more information was needed. A major problem for the Board was trying to find an accurate way of measuring property owner sentiment. They felt that another meeting, and perhaps some kind of straw poll, was needed to be sure the process was fair and representative.
This decision was reaffirmed at an October 8 meeting of the Board where it was decided to contact the County Commissioners to request another public meeting, one that would not be part of the legal process to drive towards a conclusion. The County is agreeable with that idea. A public informational meeting will be held on Saturday July 8 at 9 AM in the Atwater Community Center. If you are reading this article, you are not informed. Please notify your neighbors, especially new ones. We will try to publicize this in the Atwater Sunfish Gazette and elsewhere as well.
An effort like this requires help. While you do not need to be an Association member to take part in a public meeting, you will need to be a member if you would like to be part of the organizational and notification process. If the Association chooses to play a role in the decision making process it may decide to represent only its membership. You can use the inserted membership application to join.