Cleaner-burning craft will enter lake
Just because regulators have banned certain types of watercraft motors from use on Lake Tahoe doesn’t mean Jet Skis and personal watercraft will be completely absent from the lake this summer.
The number of craft on the lake may be fewer, but many rental concessions will have the opportunity to provide the newest clean-burning technology.
However, it didn’t always look as if that would be the case.
“Up until around November, as little as four months ago, we were thinking there would be no crafts out there that would be clean enough,” said Bob Hassett, who operates Action Water Sports of Tahoe. “I’m just glad we have an option now. There’s at least one manufacturer who has stepped up to the plate and provided a clean machine. I’m just relieved we’re allowed to stay in business.”
That isn’t to say rental concessions still are not upset with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency for the regulation.
The new technology can cost as much as twice the money as the other watercraft, according to Mark Sentyrz, owner of Kings Beach Aqua Sports and Lighthouse Water Sports in Tahoe City.
Another problem, Sentyrz said, is that he used to get a 60 to 80 percent return on the price of his equipment. He can’t sell the older equipment now.
“Once you put a ban in place, you can’t use the machines at Lake Tahoe, and it’s difficult to sell them,” he said. “Actually, it’s impossible to sell them. There’s no market for them.”
Two types of watercraft recently have come out that will comply with the TRPA regulation: the Polaris Genesis and Arctic Cat Tigershark.
But the two types of craft are “twice as expensive and the technology is unproven,” Sentryz said.
In its original ban, TRPA allowed two-stroke engines whose fuel is injected into the crankcase prior to entering the cylinder. That allowed people to use a Bombardier Sea-Doo, and Sentryz said he bought four last summer and placed an order several months ago for 14 more.
TRPA recently amended its ban to prohibit the use of the Bombardier craft, calling it a “loophole” in the original ordinance. Because concessionaires such as Sentyrz bought the craft in good faith, TRPA is allowing them to be used until October 2001 as long as they were purchased before Jan. 27 of this year.
Sentyrz would like to see the three-year cap removed.
“In good faith, I think TRPA should let these machines be used in perpetuity,” he said. “They are significantly cleaner than the older models. They are much, much more quiet.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a series of standards in place concerning motorized watercraft. In upcoming years, motorized watercraft must have increasingly cleaner emissions, or manufacturers will not be allowed to sell them.
The California Air Resources Board in December 1997 adopted even more strict emissions standards. The CARB standard establishes three tiers – in 2001, 2004 and 2008 – where manufacturers must start to meet emissions requirements for new machines.
TRPA’s governing board will consider a new exemption Wednesday, which would allow the use of two-stroke engines certified as meeting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2001 standard. That would allow a Yamaha Tigershark craft to be used on Lake Tahoe until October 2001. The Tigershark contains a catalytic converter, which allows the engine to be cleaner than a carbureted two-stroke.
Sentyrz said he agreed that amendment would give Lake Tahoe residents, business owners and visitors more options regarding acceptable watercraft. However, he said he believes TRPA should go entirely with a regulations based on EPA’s or CARB’s rules, both which allow the continued use of existing watercraft.
“The way they have the language of this regulation is ridiculous,” Sentyrz said. “They should just stick to EPA or CARB standards.”
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