Speedboat noise may be targeted
KINGS BEACH – An increase in noise complaints on Lake Tahoe this summer has the Nevada Division of Wildlife and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency contemplating stricter boat noise enforcement.
North Shore resident Jeff Rieger started a petition in September asking TRPA officials to enforce stricter decibel thresholds because of the offshore racing boats, which he said have increased in number.
“(The boats) can actually make it so loud on my back porch that I can’t even hear the person I’m talking to,” Rieger said. “There are all these people with all this money and they buy these big boats. And it’s loud. It’s insanely loud.”
Fred Messmann, Nevada boating law administrator, drafted new regulations in July.
A vote on the regulation was expected to be taken by the nine statewide Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners on Saturday.
The TRPA and the division of wildlife currently have noise ordinances, which Messmann said are hard to regulate because testing a boat’s particular decibel level is difficult.
Current regulations stipulate testing at a certain distance from the shoreline and a certain distance away from the offending boat.
The new approach to regulating boat noise, which Nevada may pass, measures the noise received onshore from operation of any vessel.
The new tests would make measurements at the shoreline and compare them to the recommended noise limit of 75 decibel. If any boat is identified as exceeding that limit, it could be cited.
Messmann said the Nevada Division of Wildlife has a boat that patrols Lake Tahoe daily from spring until fall along with the Washoe and Douglas counties’ sheriff patrol boats.
Messmann said problem boats have modified exhaust systems or don’t have a muffling system at all, like the cigarette or offshore racing boats.
He said the new regulations Nevada is considering have worked in other states and could be enforced by any Nevada peace officer. However the TRPA could not enforce the changes.
“There’s not very many boats that violate the thresholds, but it only takes one,” Messmann said. “We don’t want to mess up boaters’ fun, but at the same time we don’t want shoreline people or fishermen not to be able to hear themselves think. I don’t anticipate its being a major enforcement problem for our agency.”
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