Permanent No Wake Zone

By: Laura Gibbs
By: Laura Gibbs

A no wake zone is defined as a movement of water created by a boat great enough to disturb another boat at rest.

But this new regulation is making waves among boaters. From the Riverside Bridge to the Rockford Country Club is a stretch of the Rock River that is now a permanent no wake zone. This is a new law being enforced by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department.

Steve DePauw, the river coordinator with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department, says, “The State of Illinois says all public boat launches within 150 feet is a no wake zone."

Sgt. DePauw says this new regulation is for boaters safety and because this part of the river is very congested.

DePauw says, "The people we're having a hard time getting to obey this is the people who have been on the river for year they're not looking for the signs."

Dave Wafford has been cruising the Rock River for years. He's upset with this permanent no wake rule.

Wafford days, "It takes 11 minutes to get through that stretch and the signs are so small."

But Sgt. DePauw says the sign size is the standard set size the state requires. As for the fact boaters have to slow down, in a no wake zone you cannot exceed five miles per hour, but along the rest of the river the speed limit is 45 mph. Those against the no wake zone are starting to circulate a petition to get it lifted. Their argument is that this is just one more reason why boaters will take their boats elsewhere.

Wafford states, "There's not much to do on the Rock River, so they've just added one more inconvenience."

But not all boaters say the no wake zone is a bad thing. It's helping to keep the waters a little calmer along their riverfront property.

So far no tickets have been issued to anyone who may have violated this permanent no wake zone. Both the DNR and the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department are just working to make sure boaters are educated about the rules of our waterways.


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