Time to start learning the ropes of new Jet Ski ban | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Time to start learning the ropes of new Jet Ski ban

Andy Bourelle

The ban of certain types of motorized watercraft on Lake Tahoe has been finalized, and residents and visitors have less than three months to figure out what is allowed for use on Lake Tahoe.

What was to happen this summer, prior to Wednesday’s action by the Governing Board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, was a prohibition of all watercraft powered by two-stroke engines, with a few exceptions. The ban essentially eliminated carbureted two-stroke engines, which power most Jet Skis and personal watercraft.

Only a couple models of personal watercraft – Polaris Genesis and Arctic Cat Tigershark – will be available this summer for use on Lake Tahoe.

Another type of craft, a Bombardier Sea-Doo, was been exempted for three years. It was a craft TRPA’s original ban said was acceptable, but TRPA later called it a loophole. While cleaner than carbureted two-stroke motors, the Sea-Doo is still not clean enough, according to TRPA.

In February, the board adopted an extension for two-stroke motors that are used as auxiliary power for sailboats.

To help settle the lawsuit it was facing for the ban, the board Wednesday agreed on two more exemptions. One exempts any watercraft powered by a two-stroke engine of 10 horsepower or less until October 2001.

The other would allow one type of craft – a Yamaha using a catalytic converter to make it cleaner-burning than other carbureted two-stroke engines – to be used for three more years.

In exchange for that action, the plaintiffs are going to provide two boat engines – at a cost of up to $40,000 – to TRPA. The regulatory agency had budgeted $150,000 a year for one boat and six enforcement officers for 1999 and 2000. The engines, installed in a boat TRPA will provide, are expected to double TRPA’s ability to enforce the ban on Lake Tahoe.

Additionally, the plaintiffs are going to assist TRPA in providing signs and brochures for distribution in and around the basin. This is expected to help educate residents and visitors about what craft are or are not allowed.

The final mitigation measure agreed upon requires the plaintiffs to provide 1,000 bilge sponges and $5,000 worth of material to El Dorado County for its existing lake-wide marina oil program, a three-year $460,000 program to mitigate oil discharges into Lake Tahoe.

Not all of TRPA’s governors were convinced of the deal. Drake Delanoy, the Nevada governor’s appointee to the board, was the one dissenting vote.

“I don’t think the mitigation is adequate,” he said. “I think it’s embarrassing. Forty thousand dollars (for the two engines) compared to the number of engines they’ll be able to produce in the two years we give them.”

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