Chapter 8.12
LAKE WHATCOM WATER SAFETY

Sections:

8.12.010    Jurisdiction.

8.12.020    Definitions.

8.12.030    Applicability of regulations.

8.12.040    Negligent operation of watercraft.

8.12.050    Reckless operation of watercraft.

8.12.060    Speed limit.

8.12.070    Intoxication.

8.12.080    Incapacitated operators.

8.12.090    Accidents – Action.

8.12.100    Accidents – Reports required.

8.12.110    Accidents – Reports confidential.

8.12.120    Overloading watercraft.

8.12.130    Excessive power.

8.12.135    Carbureted two-stroke engine restrictions on Lake Whatcom.

8.12.140    Restricted areas.

8.12.150    Swimming.

8.12.160    Watercraft equipment and numbering.

8.12.170    Water skiing.

8.12.180    Skindiving.

8.12.190    Compliance with Coast Guard rules.

8.12.200    Enforcement.

8.12.210    Aiding and abetting violations.

8.12.220    Violations – Penalty.

8.12.010 Jurisdiction.

The city, in the exercise of its police powers, assumes control and jurisdiction of all waters of Lake Whatcom within its limits; and such waters, for the purpose of this chapter, shall be known as “Lake Whatcom.” [Code 1980 at § 10.12.010].

8.12.020 Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

“Aquatic event” means any organized water event of limited duration which is duly sanctioned at least seven days in advance by duly constituted authority and which is conducted according to a prearranged schedule and in which general public interest is manifested.

“Diver’s flag” means a red flag five units of measurement on the hoist by six units of measurement on the fly with a white stripe of one unit crossing the red diagonally with the flag having stiffeners. This flag shall only pertain to skin and scuba (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) diving, and shall supplement any nationally recognized diver’s flag or marking.

“Master” means the captain, skipper, pilot, or any person having charge of any vessel or watercraft.

“Owner” means the person who has lawful possession of a vessel or watercraft by virtue of legal title or equitable interest therein which entitled him to such possession.

“Pier” means any pier, wharf, dock, float, gridiron or other structure to promote the convenient loading or unloading or other discharge of vessels or watercraft, or the repair thereof.

“Restricted area” means an area that has been marked in accordance with and as authorized by the laws or regulations of the city to be used for, or closed to, certain designated purposes such as swimming, skindiving, and aquatic events, the method of marking and designation of which shall have been made by the chief of police in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

“Watercraft” means any contrivance used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.020].

8.12.030 Applicability of regulations.

The provisions of this chapter shall be applicable to all watercraft operating in the waters of Lake Whatcom. The provisions of this chapter shall be construed to supplement United States laws and the state laws and regulations when not expressly inconsistent therewith in Lake Whatcom where such United States and state laws and regulations are applicable. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.030].

8.12.040 Negligent operation of watercraft.

Any person who operates any watercraft in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property or at a rate of speed greater than will permit him in the exercise of reasonable care to bring the watercraft to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead, is guilty of negligent operation and a violation of this chapter. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.040].

8.12.050 Reckless operation of watercraft.

Any person who operates any watercraft in a reckless manner so as to endanger the life or limb, or damage the property of any person, is guilty of the crime of reckless operation and a violation of this chapter. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.050].

8.12.060 Speed limit.

It is unlawful for any person to operate any watercraft at a speed in excess of five nautical miles per hour under the following circumstances:

A. Within 250 feet of any shoreline, pier, restricted area or shore installation.

B. Within 100 feet of a swimmer or nonmotorized watercraft.

C. Between one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise. [Ord. 9682 § 1, 1987; Code 1980 at § 10.12.060].

8.12.070 Intoxication.

A. It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor or narcotic or habit-forming drugs to operate or be in actual physical control of any watercraft.

B. It is unlawful for the owner of any watercraft or any person having such in charge or in control to authorize or knowingly permit the same to be operated by any person who is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, narcotic or habit-forming drugs. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.070].

8.12.080 Incapacitated operators.

It is unlawful for the owner of any watercraft or any person having such in charge or in control to authorize or knowingly permit the same to be operated by any person who by reason of physical or mental disability is incapable of operating such vessel or watercraft under the prevailing circumstances. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.080].

8.12.090 Accidents – Action.

The operator of any watercraft involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person or in damage to property shall immediately stop such watercraft at the scene of the accident and shall give his name, address, the name and/or number of his watercraft, and the name and address of the owner, to the person struck or the operator or occupants of the vessel or watercraft collided with or property damaged, and shall render to any person injured in such an accident reasonable assistance. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.090].

8.12.100 Accidents – Reports required.

The master, owner, or operator of any watercraft shall file a report within 48 hours with the chief of police of any accident involving death or personal injury requiring medical treatment or property damage in excess of $200.00 in which such watercraft has been involved on Lake Whatcom. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.100].

8.12.110 Accidents – Reports confidential.

All required accident reports and supplemental reports and copies thereof shall be without prejudice to the individual so reporting and shall be for the confidential use of the chief of police, city attorney, or other peace and enforcement officer as provided in this chapter, except that any such officer may disclose the identity of a person reported as involved in an accident when such identity is not otherwise known or when such person denies his presence at such accident. No such accident report or copy thereof shall be used as evidence in any trial, civil or criminal, arising out of an accident, except that any officer above named for receiving accident reports shall furnish, upon demand of any person who has, or who claims to have, made such a report, or, upon demand of any court, a certificate showing that a specified accident report has or has not been made to the chief of police solely to prove a compliance or a failure to comply with the requirement that such report be made in the manner required by law. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.110].

8.12.120 Overloading watercraft.

No watercraft shall be loaded with passengers or cargo beyond its safe carrying capacity nor carry passengers in an unsafe manner taking into consideration weather and other existing operating conditions. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.120].

8.12.130 Excessive power.

No watercraft shall be equipped with any motor or other propulsion machinery beyond its safe power capacity, taking into consideration the type and construction of such watercraft and other existing operating conditions. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.130].

8.12.135 Carbureted two-stroke engine restrictions on Lake Whatcom.

The operation of all carbureted two-stroke engine powered watercraft on the portion of Lake Whatcom in the city limits is hereafter prohibited, effective January 1, 2006, except as follows:

A. Watercraft powered by a two-stroke powered engine whose engine is certified and labeled as meeting the 2006 or later model year United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions standards, as specified in Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91; or

B. All carbureted two-stroke engines of 10 horsepower or less are permitted until January 1, 2007. [Ord. 2005-06-045].

8.12.140 Restricted areas.

In the interest of safe navigation, life, safety and the protection of property, the chief of police shall designate restricted areas, and the purpose for which the same shall be used. No person shall operate a vessel or watercraft within a restricted area; provided, that this section shall not apply to watercraft engaged in or accompanying the activity to which the area is restricted, nor to patrol or rescue craft or in the case of an emergency. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.140].

8.12.150 Swimming.

Swimming in Lake Whatcom shall be confined to restricted swimming areas or to within a distance of 150 feet from the shore or a pier unless the swimmer is accompanied by a watercraft. [Ord. 9682 § 2, 1987; Code 1980 at § 10.12.150].

8.12.160 Watercraft equipment and numbering.

A. All watercraft or vessels shall carry the equipment required by any applicable United States laws as now or hereafter amended, and shall be numbered or designated in accordance with any applicable United States laws as now or hereafter amended.

B. All watercraft shall carry one Coast Guard-approved life preserver, buoyant vest, ring buoy, or buoyant cushion in good and serviceable condition for each person on board.

C. Any person being towed on water skis, aquaplane, surfboard or other similar contrivance must wear a life preserver or buoyant life belt. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.160].

8.12.170 Water skiing.

A. No watercraft which has in tow or is otherwise assisting a person on water skis, aquaplane, surfboard or similar contrivances shall be operated or propelled in Lake Whatcom unless such watercraft is occupied by at least two persons, one who is at least 16 years of age who shall be the operator, and one who is at least eight years of age who shall be an observer or ski tender; provided, that this subsection shall not apply to watercraft used in duly authorized water ski tournaments, competitions, expositions, or trials therefor.

B. No watercraft shall have in tow or shall otherwise be assisting a person on water skis, aquaplane, surfboard or similar contrivance from one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise; provided, that this subsection shall not apply to watercraft used in duly authorized water ski tournaments, competitions, expositions, or trials therefor.

C. All watercraft having in tow or otherwise assisting a person on water skis, aquaplane, surfboard or similar contrivance shall be operated in a careful and prudent manner and at a reasonable distance from persons and property so as not to endanger the life or property of any person.

D. A person being towed on water skis, aquaplane, surfboard or similar contrivance shall conduct himself in a careful and prudent manner and shall remain at all times at least 100 feet from other persons and from the property of others. [Ord. 9682 § 3, 1987; Code 1980 at § 10.12.170].

8.12.180 Skindiving.

No skindiver shall be in the water unless he is accompanied by a watercraft or the area in which he is diving is marked by an adequately displayed diver’s flag. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.180].

8.12.190 Compliance with Coast Guard rules.

Except as otherwise specified in this chapter, watercraft shall be subject to the Rules to Prevent Collisions of Vessels and Pilot Rules for Certain Inland Waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and of the Coast of the Gulf of Mexico (C.F. 236479), promulgated by the United States Coast Guard, pursuant to act of Congress, as such rules are now or may hereafter from time to time be adopted. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.190].

8.12.200 Enforcement.

The chief of police and any of his authorized deputies or employees and authorized personnel of the governments of the United States, the state of Washington or its political subdivisions by virtue of their election or appointment shall have authority to enter upon and inspect any vessel or watercraft on the lake and are charged with the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter except as the enforcement thereof is otherwise specified.

It shall be the duty of the officials to make complaints for any violation of the same, or any part of this chapter in the name of the city; provided, that this provision shall not operate to preclude the making of such complaint by any other person legally authorized to do so. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.200].

8.12.210 Aiding and abetting violations.

It is unlawful to counsel, aid, or abet the violation of or failure to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter. [Code 1980 at § 10.12.210].

8.12.220 Violations – Penalty.

Any person who violates or fails to comply with any provision of this chapter or any lawful order or direction of the chief of police or any person or officer charged with the enforcement thereof shall, on conviction thereof, be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine in any sum not exceeding $1,000, or by imprisonment not to exceed 90 days, or both such fine and imprisonment. [Ord. 2013-09-073 § 9; Code 1980 at § 10.12.210].