Chapter 9.14
WATER SAFETY

Sections:

9.14.010    Title.

9.14.020    Purpose.

9.14.030    Area of jurisdiction.

9.14.040    Definitions.

9.14.050    Manner of operation – Basic rules.

9.14.060    Equipment.

9.14.070    Regulated areas.

9.14.080    Mooring to buoys, defacing or destroying aids to navigation or regulatory devices prohibited.

9.14.090    Restrictions on use of water.

9.14.100    Marking of areas.

9.14.110    Regattas, vessel, watercraft, motorboat or other boat races, tournaments, exhibitions, water ski tournaments or other events on any waters of Cowlitz County.

9.14.120    Enforcement.

9.14.130    Penalty.

9.14.900    Severability.

9.14.910    Effective date.

Cross-references:
Chapter 88.12 RCW: Regulation of motor boats.

9.14.010 Title.

Ordinance No. 5819, codified as CCC 9.14, is hereby repealed and the following provisions adopted. This chapter may be cited as the “Cowlitz County Water Safety Ordinance.” [Ord. 6191, § 1, 5-16-79.]

9.14.020 Purpose.

The increased use of the waters of Cowlitz County by fishermen, water skiers, boaters, swimmers and other persons has created dangers to life and property. Federal and state laws and regulations fail to control all unsafe practices related to water recreation in these bodies of water. It is therefore necessary for the protection and preservation of the safety and general welfare of the users of these waters that the following regulations be adopted to supplement existing state and federal boating laws. [Ord. 6191, § 2, 5-16-79.]

9.14.030 Area of jurisdiction.

The provisions of this chapter shall be applicable to all vessels and watercraft and operators thereof which are operated within the geographical jurisdiction of Cowlitz County. The chapter shall be construed to supplement the laws of the United States and the laws of the State of Washington when not expressly inconsistent therewith. Recognizing that rivers and lakes have unique characteristics, which must be addressed on an individual basis, special regulations have been drafted to apply to specific bodies of water in Cowlitz County. (See CCC 9.14.090.) [Ord. 6191, § 3, 5-16-79.]

9.14.040 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context or subject matter clearly requires otherwise, the following words or phrases shall have the following meaning:

“Aids to navigation” means buoys, beacons and other fixed objects in or on the water which are used to mark obstructions to navigation, mark restricted areas, or to direct navigation to or through restricted areas.

“Darkness” means that period between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise.

“Motorboat” means any vessel or watercraft propelled in any respect by machinery, including those temporarily equipped with detachable motors.

“Operator” means a person who is in control or in charge of a vessel while it is in use.

“Person” means an individual, firm, partnership, corporation, company, association or other legal entity.

“Regulatory markers” means any fixed marker in or on the water or sign on the shore or on a bridge over the water other than an aid to navigation.

“Restricted area” means an area which has been marked to be used for or closed to certain designated purposes.

“Sheriff” means the Sheriff of Cowlitz County or any duly appointed deputy sheriff of Cowlitz County or other duly authorized agent thereof.

“Slow-no wake speed” means the speed at which the particular vessel being operated does not create a wake; but in no event a speed in excess of five miles per hour, the speed within any defined “No-Ski Area.”

“Vessel” or “watercraft” means any contrivance used or designated for navigation on water, except a seaplane when operated on the waters of this county; provided that, for the purpose of this chapter, the term “vessel” or “watercraft” shall not include vessels engaged in interstate and foreign commerce, vessels regulated by the Washington State Public Service Commission, vessels owned and operated by the United States, any state or political subdivision of any state; and commercial fishing vessels when operated by a person holding a commercial fishing license as provided by Chapter 75.28 RCW.

“Water skier” means all forms, manners, means or contrivances used by any person or persons being towed behind a motorboat; the person or persons water skiing. [Ord. 6191, § 4, 5-16-79.]

9.14.050 Manner of operation – Basic rules.

A. Every person operating a vessel or watercraft on any waters in Cowlitz County shall operate the same in a careful and prudent manner at a rate of speed no greater than is reasonable and proper under the conditions existing at the point of operation, taking into account the amount and character of traffic, size of the lake, river or body of water, freedom from obstruction to view ahead and so as not to unduly or unreasonably endanger life, limb, property or other rights of any other person on or adjacent to such waters; provided, that no motorboat, vessel or watercraft shall be operated in excess of slow-no wake speed after darkness.

B. Any motorboat towing a water skier must be manned by a competent observer or ski tender, in addition to an operator. [Ord. 6191, § 5, 5-16-79.]

9.14.060 Equipment.

All vessels operating on the waters of Cowlitz County must contain the following equipment:

A. Such lights and muffler equipment as now or hereafter required by state law;

B. At least one Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) for each person on board;

C. A fire extinguisher of the type capable of putting out an oil, gas or electrical fire on the vessel. Fire extinguisher equipment must comply with U.S. Coast Guard regulations;

D. A whistle, horn, bell or other audible signalling device;

E. Subsections A, B, C, and D of this section shall comply with U.S. Coast Guard regulations. [Ord. 6191, § 6, 5-16-79.]

9.14.070 Regulated areas.

It shall be unlawful to operate a motorboat within a public or private bathing or swimming area marked by buoys, regulatory markers or other aids to navigation or similar distinguishing devices. It shall be unlawful to operate any vessel in a restricted or designated area contrary to regulations established for that area. [Ord. 6191, § 7, 5-16-79.]

9.14.080 Mooring to buoys, defacing or destroying aids to navigation or regulatory devices prohibited.

A. No person shall moor a vessel to nor obstruct any of the buoys or other aids to navigation placed in any waters of this county under authority of the United States, the state, or agencies thereof, or under authority of this Board.

B. No person shall deface, remove or destroy any aid to navigation or other regulatory marker authorized to be placed in the waters or on the shorelines of this county. [Ord. 6191, § 8, 5-16-79.]

9.14.090 Restrictions on use of water.

I. Silver Lake.

A. Except on safe takeoffs and landings of water skiers, it shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motorboat within 200 feet of lake shorelines, docks, boat launches, or designated bathing or swimming areas in excess of a slow-no wake speed.

B. A takeoff or landing will not be considered safe unless it can be accomplished without risk to swimmers or watercraft. Takeoffs and landings shall be made in a counterclockwise pattern. All takeoffs and landings shall be at a 45-degree or greater angle from the shore. It is not a safe landing to approach a landing site parallel to the shoreline. If a safe landing as thus defined is not possible, skiers must be picked up by the boat before coming within 200 feet from the shore or dock line and brought to shore under the slow-no wake speed restriction. If a safe takeoff as thus defined is not possible, skiers must be carried 200 feet out from the shoreline or dock to an area safe for water skiing. Motorboats towing water skiers may exceed the slow-no wake speed to the extent necessary to maintain a water skier in a skiing position within 200 feet from shore or dock, only when taking off or landing under safe conditions.

C. All motorboats towing water skiers shall proceed in a counterclockwise manner.

D. No person shall operate a motorboat on Silver Lake for the purpose of water skiing within those areas designated by standard regulatory aids to navigation as “Slow/No-Wake” areas. Designated “Slow/No-Wake” areas are described as follows:

1. “Slow/No-Wake” Area #1. That area of Silver Lake lying west of a buoyed line running straight south from a point approximately 50 feet east of Anderson’s Resort to a point on the south shore of Silver Lake commonly known as Timber Point.

2. “Slow/No-Wake” Area #2. That area of Silver Lake lying north of a buoyed line beginning north of the public boat launch, running southeasterly to a point approximately 100 feet south of Streeter’s Boat Launch.

3. “Slow/No-Wake” Area #3. That area northeasterly of a buoyed line beginning at a point from an extension of Hall Road, running southeasterly to a point approximately 50 feet south of the mouth of Hemlock Creek.

E. No vessel shall follow behind a water skier closer than 200 feet, nor cross the towing vessel’s bow by less than 200 feet, nor alongside a skier closer than 100 feet.

F. No vessel in operation shall approach within 100 feet of another vessel at a speed in excess of slow-no wake speed.

II. Lake Merrill.

It shall be unlawful for any person, other than a county, state, or federal law enforcement agency, to operate any vessel on Lake Merrill in excess of five miles per hour.

III. Lake Merwin.

A. Except on safe takeoffs and landings of water skiers, it shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motorboat within 200 feet of lake shorelines, docks, boat launches, or designated bathing or swimming areas in excess of a slow-no wake speed.

B. A takeoff or landing will not be considered safe unless it can be accomplished without risk to swimmers or watercraft. Takeoffs and landings shall be made in a counterclockwise pattern. All takeoffs and landings shall be made at a 45-degree or greater angle from the shore. It is not a safe landing to approach a landing site parallel to the shoreline. If a safe landing as thus defined is not possible, skiers must be picked up by the boat before coming within 200 feet from the shore or dock line and brought to shore under the slow-no wake speed restriction. If a safe takeoff as thus defined is not possible, skiers must be carried 200 feet out from the shoreline or dock to an area safe for water skiing. Motorboats towing water skiers may exceed the slow-no wake speed to the extent necessary to maintain a water skier in a skiing position within 200 feet from shore or dock, only when taking off or landing under safe conditions.

C. All motorboats towing water skiers shall proceed in a counterclockwise manner.

D. No person shall operate a motorboat on Lake Merwin in excess of the slow-no wake speed as defined in CCC 9.14.040 within those areas designated hereinafter and/or marked by standard regulatory aids to navigation as “Slow/No-Wake” areas. Designated “Slow/No-Wake” areas are described as follows:

1. “Slow/No-Wake” Area #1 (Speelyai Bay): Northeast of buoy line and within Speelyai Bay;

2. “Slow/No-Wake” Area #2 (Woodland Park): North of the boom line at Woodland Park;

3. “Slow/No-Wake” Area #3 (Kings Lakeside): North of the boom;

4. “Slow/No-Wake” Area #4 (Cresap): From the buoy line at Cresap Campgrounds to the steel cable at the east end of the Lake.

E. Restricted Areas of Lake Merwin. No vessel or watercraft shall be operated in the following areas: (See Exception below):

1. Restricted Area #1: West of the trash boom adjacent to Merwin Dam;

2. Restricted Area #2: East of the buoy line located 1,500 feet downstream from the Yale Powerhouse.

Exception: Vessels or watercraft of any federal, state, county, local governmental agency and Pacific Power and Light authorized operational or maintenance crews may be operated in restricted waters when on official business.

F. No vessel shall follow behind a water skier closer than 200 feet nor cross the towing vessel’s bow by less than 200 feet, nor alongside a skier closer than 100 feet.

G. No vessel in operation shall approach within 100 feet of another vessel at a speed in excess of a slow-no wake speed.

H. Motorboats shall not exceed a maximum speed of 40 miles per hour on all waters of Lake Merwin.

IV. Yale Lake.

A. Except on safe takeoffs and landings of water skiers, it shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motorboat within 200 feet of lake shorelines, docks, boat launches, or designated bathing or swimming areas in excess of a slow-no wake speed.

B. A takeoff or landing will not be considered safe unless it can be accomplished without risk to swimmers or watercraft. Takeoffs and landings shall be made in a counterclockwise pattern. All takeoffs and landings shall be made at a 45-degree or greater angle from the shore. It is not a safe landing to approach a landing site parallel to the shoreline. If a safe landing as thus defined is not possible, skiers must be picked up by the boat before coming within 200 feet from the dock or shore lines and brought to shore under the slow-no wake speed restriction. If a safe takeoff as thus defined is not possible, skiers must be carried 200 feet out from the shoreline or dock to an area safe for water skiing. Motorboats towing water skiers may exceed the slow-no wake speed to the extent necessary to maintain a water skier in a skiing position within 200 feet from shore or dock, only when taking off or landing under safe conditions.

C. All motorboats towing water skiers shall proceed in a counterclockwise manner.

D. No person shall operate a motorboat on Yale Lake for the purpose of water skiing within those areas designated by standard regulatory aids to navigation as “Slow/No-Wake” areas. Designated “Slow/No-Wake” areas are described as follows:

1. “Slow/No-Wake” Area #1 (Saddle Dam Park): Southwest of the buoy line;

2. “Slow/No-Wake” Area #2 (Yale Park): North of the buoy line;

3. “Slow/No-Wake” Area #3 (Cougar Park): North of the boom/buoy line;

4. “Slow/No-Wake” Area #4 (Beaver Bay): Northeast of the buoy line.

E. Restricted Areas of Yale Lake. No vessel or watercraft shall be operated in the following areas (See Exception below).

1. Restricted Area #1: West of the trash boom adjacent to Yale Dam;

2. Restricted Area #2: East of the buoy line located 1,200 feet downstream from Swift No. 2 Powerhouse.

Exception: Vessels or watercraft of any federal, state, county, local government agency and Pacific Power and Light authorized operational or maintenance crews may be operated in restricted waters when on official business.

F. No vessel shall follow behind a water skier closer than 200 feet nor cross the towing vessel’s bow by less than 200 feet, nor alongside a skier closer than 100 feet.

G. No vessel in operation shall approach within 100 feet of another vessel at a speed in excess of slow-no wake speed.

H. Motorboats shall not exceed a maximum speed of 40 miles per hour on all waters of Yale Lake.

V. Columbia River Shoreline Adjacent to Willow Grove Boat Launch and Willow Grove Beach Park and Fisher Island Slough.

A. Within that portion of the Fisher Island Slough running generally from the easterly end toward the westerly end of the slough as hereinafter described, from bank-to-bank within the slough, and/or as marked by standard regulatory aids to navigation as “Slow/No-Wake” areas, it shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motorboat in excess of a slow-no wake speed. Additionally, from the west end of the Fisher Island Slough, along the northerly shoreline to the west end of the Willow Grove Park, and/or as marked by standard regulatory aids to navigation as “Slow/No-Wake” areas, it shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motorboat within 200 feet of river shorelines, docks, boat launches, or designated bathing or swimming areas in excess of a slow-no wake speed except on safe takeoffs and landings of water skiers as hereinafter described. The limits of the “Slow/No-Wake” areas are specifically identified as follows and marked with “Slow/No-Wake” regulatory aids to navigation:

Coordinate

 

System:

Washington State Plane Coordinate System, South Zone, NAD 83 (1991)

Easterly End of

 

Slough:

Beginning at a point on the northern bank of the slough –

N 313,566.05

E 995,584.57

Thence S 54° 17′ 54″ W

To a point on the southern

bank of the slough –

N 312,875.15

E 995,536.54

Westerly Portion

 

of Slough:

Beginning at a point on the northern bank of the slough –

N 316,711.85

E 990,598.29

Thence S 05° 02′ 15″ E

To a point on the southern bank of the slough –

N 316,080.74

E 990,653.92

West End of Park:

Beginning at a point on the bank of the Columbia River –

N 318,698.75

E 982,063.49

Thence S 05° 02′ 15″ E

To a point 200 feet from shore.

B. A takeoff or landing will not be considered safe unless it can be accomplished without risk to swimmers or watercraft. Takeoffs and landings shall be made in a counterclockwise pattern. All takeoffs and landings shall be made at a 45-degree or greater angle from the shore. It is not a safe landing to approach a landing site parallel to the shoreline. If a safe landing as thus defined is not possible, skiers must be picked up by the boat before coming within 200 feet from the dock or shore lines and brought to shore under the slow-no wake speed restriction. If a safe takeoff as thus defined is not possible, skiers must be carried 200 feet out from the shoreline or dock to an area safe for water skiing. Motorboats towing water skiers may exceed the slow-no wake speed to the extent necessary to maintain a water skier in a skiing position within 200 feet from shore or dock, only when taking off or landing under safe conditions.

VI. Columbia River Shoreline Adjacent to the Coal Creek Slough Boat Launch.

Within that portion of the Coal Creek Slough that is within a 600-foot radius of the Coal Creek Slough Boat Launch and/or as marked by standard regulatory aids to navigation as “Slow/No-Wake” areas, it shall be unlawful to operate a motorboat in excess of a slow-no wake speed.

VII. Horseshoe Lake.

The city of Woodland water safety regulations, Chapter 9.20 WMC, is hereby adopted by reference and its provisions shall apply equally to Horseshoe Lake waters located within the city of Woodland and Cowlitz County. [Ord. 10-063, 6-8-10; Ord. 99-132, § 1, 8-2-99; Ord. 95-071, § 1, 6-12-95; Ord. 6191, § 10, 5-16-79.]

9.14.100 Marking of areas.

A. The Board of County Commissioners designates the Cowlitz County Department of Parks and Recreation and the Sheriff as responsible agencies for marking such designated areas as described in this chapter with suitable buoys or other aids to navigation and for the posting of water safety regulations.

B. Copies of the ordinance codified in this chapter, and maps of those areas where water skiing or other boating is restricted may be posted at boat launches on the specified bodies of water as listed in CCC 9.14.090.

C. The Board of County Commissioners reserves the right, after notice and public hearing, to designate additional restricted areas on the waters of Cowlitz County by causing the same to be marked with suitable aids to navigation or other regulatory devices. [Ord. 6191, § 11, 5-16-79.]

9.14.110 Regattas, vessel, watercraft, motorboat or other boat races, tournaments, exhibitions, water ski tournaments or other events on any waters of Cowlitz County.

A. The Cowlitz County Sheriff may authorize the holding of regattas, vessel, watercraft, motorboat or other boat races, tournaments, exhibitions, water ski tournaments, or other events on any waters of Cowlitz County.

B. Persons or organizations desiring to sponsor such events shall apply to the Sheriff at least 10 days in advance of the commencement of such events for a permit. Such application shall be submitted on forms provided by the Sheriff and shall specify the waters and general area where the event shall be held; the buoys or other marking devices the sponsor of such event shall place upon the waters to set off any race course or other area; the provisions made by the sponsors for patrolling to prevent the unauthorized entry into the area by nonparticipants; the rescue and safety measures that shall be provided to insure the safety of participants and others from injury or damage; the dates of such events, including the dates of trial practice or preliminary events; and such other information as the Sheriff may require to fully inform him of the nature and extent of such event.

C. Each application shall be accompanied by a permit fee of $10.00, and a bond or cash deposit of not less than $2,000 payable to the county for the purpose of holding the county harmless from injury or damage to county property, and insuring that requirements for markers, rescue equipment, or other safety conditions stated in the application finally approved are actually provided. The applicant shall also provide broad form general liability insurance in an amount of $500,000 single combined limit to provide assurance that any losses resulting from injury or damage to persons and property caused by the event will be recovered. Cowlitz County shall be an additional named insured on any insurance policies required hereunder. When the Sheriff determines that the nature, scope and length of the proposed event and the number of the participants, vessels and spectators are such that the risk of injury to persons and property, both public and private, are minimal, he may waive part or all of the above requirements for insurance and/or bond.

D. Within 10 days after receiving an application for a permit, if the Sheriff determines that all requirements of this chapter have been met and that the issuance of a permit would be in the best interests of Cowlitz County, considering all impacts of the event on the affected residents of Cowlitz County, including, but not limited to, noise, water and air pollution, possible damage to public and private property, and danger to persons, he shall issue a permit for the event. Such permit shall be issued subject to the condition that the applicant will fulfill the provisions specified in the application finally approved. The Sheriff may require, if other adequate provision is not made, patrol of such area by men and equipment of his office. In such case an additional fee of $75.00 per day for each sheriff’s officer assigned and $20.00 per day for each vehicle or vessel assigned to such patrol shall be paid to the county. If at any time the sponsor or participants in such event violate any of the conditions contained in the application, such permit may be revoked by the Sheriff in the name of the county for the public safety. [Ord. 6191, § 11, 5-16-79.]

9.14.120 Enforcement.

It shall be the duty of the Sheriff to enforce all sections of this chapter. The Sheriff shall have the authority to stop and board any vessel subject to this act or any other provisions of law for the purpose of inspection or determining compliance therewith and is further empowered to issue a summons for appearance in court or before a magistrate for all violations of this act or other provision of law or to arrest violators and impound vessels where necessary to carry out the purposes thereof. [Ord. 6191, § 12, 5-16-79.]

9.14.130 Penalty.

It shall be unlawful for any person to violate any provision of this chapter; any such violation shall constitute a civil infraction, unless otherwise stated, and shall be processed as provided under the Infraction Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction (IRLJ) as adopted and promulgated by the Washington Supreme Court and subject to monetary penalties as prescribed in such rules; provided, that the base penalty as described in IRLJ 6.2(b) for violation of any provision of this chapter shall be $62.00 unless modified by ordinance or by local rule of the Cowlitz County District Court. [Ord. 02-048, § 1, 3-5-02; Ord. 6191, § 13, 5-16-79.]

9.14.900 Severability.

If any section or other portion of this chapter is for any reason held invalid or unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, such holding shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this chapter. [Ord. 6191, § 14, 5-16-79.]

9.14.910 Effective date.

This chapter shall be effective immediately. [Ord. 87-098, § 1, 5-26-87.]