Location:
BEACHES; BOATS AND BOATING; FISH AND GAME; WATER AND RELATED RESOURCES;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report


November 10, 2011

 

2011-R-0361

REGULATION OF LAKE ACTIVITY

By: Janet L. Kaminski Leduc, Senior Legislative Attorney

You asked who regulates certain activities at lakes, specifically fishing tournaments, jet ski operating hours, and beach and boat ramp management. You also want to know if the Gardner Lake Authority has any regulatory jurisdiction over these activities at Gardner Lake State Park.

SUMMARY

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is the principal agency that regulates activity on lakes, including fishing tournaments, jet ski operating hours, and beach and ramp management. (The Department of Public Health also regulates certain lakes and reservoirs that are public drinking water supply sources.)

Gardner Lake Authority has members from Salem, Bozrah, and Montville. Two or more towns that have a body of state water within their territory can establish a lake authority by ordinance. The lake authority acts as the towns' agent in cooperating with DEEP to enforce boating laws. However, a lake authority does not have jurisdiction over matters regulated by DEEP.

For more information about the regulation of lakes, see OLR Report 2004-R-0637.

ACTIVITIES ON LAKES

Fishing Tournaments

A person or club that wishes to hold a fishing tournament on inland waters must apply for a DEEP permit (Conn. Agencies Regs. 26-112-42). DEEP sets the processes and criteria for permit review and approval administratively. DEEP's Inland Fisheries Division (IFD) manages the fishing tournament permitting program and monitors tournament activities. IFD coordinates with DEEP's Boating Division and State Parks and Public Outreach Division on a tournament's use of state facilities (e.g., boat launches and state parks).

According to DEEP, the department has taken steps to manage boat launch use to avoid overcrowding on the water and at launches during fishing tournaments. The department limits weekend tournament use to 50% of the parking capacity at state boat launches, limits the number of tournaments per launch per day, and monitors tournament behavior at boat launches.

For more information about fishing tournaments, see http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2696&q=418852&depNav_GID=1632.

Jet Skis

DEEP's Boating Division regulates the use of personal watercraft, including jet skis. This regulation includes the periods during which personal watercraft may and may not be operated. According to DEEP's 2011 Boater's Guide, no one is allowed to operate personal watercraft between sunset and sunrise or during periods of reduced visibility. Among other restrictions, no one can operate a personal watercraft at a speed in excess of “Slow-No-Wake” within 200 feet of shore or of a dock, pier, float, or anchored or moored vessel, unless the watercraft is approaching to allow a water skier to take off or land.

For more restrictions on personal watercraft, see page 39 of the Boater's Guide, which is available at http://www.ct.gov/dep/lib/dep/boating/boating_guide/boaterguide.pdf.

Beach and Boat Ramp Management

DEEP's Boating Division regulates boat launches. It's State Parks and Public Outreach Division regulates beaches. For information about Gardner Lake State Park, including a map of the boat launch, see http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=444484&depNav_GID=1650.

LAKE AUTHORITIES

Two or more towns that have a body of state water within their territory can establish a lake authority by ordinance. The authority must have at least three delegates from each member town, with terms of office and selection method set by the towns establishing the authority. Each member town can appoint up to four delegates to the authority.

The authority acts as the towns' agent in cooperating with DEEP to enforce boating laws. The towns' legislative bodies can also grant it power to:

1. control and abate algae and aquatic weeds in cooperation with DEEP;

2. study water management, including water depth and circulation, and make recommendations for action to member towns;

3. act as agent for member towns for filing applications for grants and reimbursements with DEEP and other state agencies in connection with state and federal programs; and

4. act as agent for member towns with respect to receiving gifts for any of its purposes.

A lake authority does not have jurisdiction over matters regulated by DEEP (CGS 7-151a).

A lake authority responsible for a lake must pay any lake patrolmen that DEEP appoints to enforce boating laws. The authority may protect lake patrolmen it employs from financial loss and expense, including legal fees and costs, from claims due to alleged negligence while acting in the scope of their employment (CGS 7-151b).

JKL:ts