Two-Stroke PWC Engine Regulations
Code of Federal Regulations for Personal Watercraft at Lake Mead National Recreation Area
36 CFR §7.48 (f)(3) - After December 31, 2012, no one may operate a personal watercraft (PWC) that does not meet the 2006 emission standards set by EPA for the manufacturing of two-stroke engines. A person operating a personal watercraft that meets the EPA 2006 emission standards through the use of direct-injection two-stroke or four-stroke engines, or the equivalent thereof, is not subject to this prohibition and will be allowed to operate as described in this section.
How do I know if my PWC is compliant?
Look at your engine. Engines that meet the regulation should have an emission control information label that clearly states that they conform to 2006 or later clean emissions standards. Engines that have been modified to meet the specifications must have a similar label issued by the EPA.
Some PWCs built before 2006 also meet the standards. The following list of compliant models has been provided to Lake Mead National Recreation Area by PWC manufacturers.
All Honda PWCs are compliant with the 2006 EPA emissions standards.
What is a Personal Watercraft?
36 CFR §1.4 - Personal watercraft refers to a vessel, usually less than 16 feet in length, which uses an inboard, internal combustion engine powering a water jet pump as its primary source of propulsion. The vessel is intended to be operated by a person or persons sitting, standing or kneeling on the vessel, rather than within the confines of the hull.
The length is measured from end to end over the deck excluding sheer, meaning a straight line measurement of the overall length from the foremost part of the vessel to the aftermost part of the vessel, measured parallel to the centerline. Bow sprits, bumpkins, rudders, outboard motor brackets and similar fittings or attachments, are not included in the measurement. Length is stated in feet and inches.
Why was this regulation instituted?
The final rule to prohibit PWC carbureted two-stroke engines on lakes Mead and Mohave was published in the federal register on Wednesday, April 9, 2003 (Vol 68, No. 68).
Lake Mead supplies drinking water for millions of people in Las Vegas. Carbureted two-stroke engines have been shown to discharge 25-30% of their fuel directly into lake waters, resulting in high levels of hydrocarbon emissions that have the potential to harm water quality, people's health and aquatic organisms.
There was a ten-year phase-in of this PWC rule at Lake Mead NRA. The rule was announced in 2003. Enforcement began January 1, 2013.
Does this rule apply to all boats?
Presently, the two-stroke engine ban only applies to personal watercraft (Jet-Skis, SeaDoos, WaveRunners, etc).
I have an oil-injected two-stroke, is that the same as a direct-injection two-stroke?
No. Oil-injected two-strokes are still carbureted and require a fuel-oil mixture to enter the combustion chamber. Direct-injection two-strokes are not carbureted and fuel and oil are not mixed.
Park rangers who identify non-compliant PWCs may ask for license and registration to ensure the model is on the approved list. In some instances, especially for modified engines, the ranger may ask to see the EPA label to ensure it is compliant.
What will happen if I bring my carbureted two-stroke PWC to the park?
PWCs that are not compliant are still allowed to enter the park. However, they shall not be sold a vessel pass, and they are not authorized to launch.
Rangers will utilize a wide variety of enforcement strategies that include education, warnings and citations under 36 CFR § 7.48(f)(3) for violation of this regulation.
The point of the rule isn't to ticket boaters, but to ensure that the most polluting engines are kept off the lake. As time passes, the number of non-compliant PWCs will decline through attrition.
Where else can I use my PWC if I can't use it on Lake Mead or Lake Mohave?
The same rule is in place at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area's Lake Powell. All lakes in California and many throughout the northwest already enforce these standards.Two-stroke PWCs are permitted in areas such as the Colorado River south of Davis Dam, Lake Havasu and other recreation areas managed by other federal, state and local agencies. It is best to check with federal, state and local recreation managers for specific regulations prior to visiting a lake or river.
Other PWC Regulations
A U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket must be worn by each person on board a PWC.
PWCs are prohibited in the Black Canyon from Willow Beach to Hoover Dam year-round on Sundays and Mondays and Tuesday through Saturday between Labor Day and Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. They are allowed Tuesday through Saturday during the busy boating season from the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.