• Sunset at Lake Mead's Boulder Basin

    Lake Mead

    National Recreation Area AZ,NV

Two-Stroke Vessel 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.

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 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 is a ten year phase-in of this PWC rule at Lake Mead NRA. The rule was announced in 2003. Enforcement will begin January 1, 2013.

Does this rule apply to all boats?

  • Presently, the 2003 carbureted two-stroke motor ban that goes into effect on January 1, 2013, only applies to personal watercraft (Jet-Skis, SeaDoos, WaveRunners, etc).
  • However, the park's 2002 Lake Management Plan states the park service's intent to ban all two-stroke engines that do not meet 2006 EPA emissions standards in the future.
  • The Lake Management Plan went through extensive public review that included public meetings and public comment periods. At this time, the park is moving forward to propose a rule to implement that management strategy. When the rule is proposed, the National Park Service will notify the public through the Federal Register and news releases to solicit comments on the proposed rule.


Why didn't the park propose the rule for all boats earlier?

  • The park intended to follow the PWC rule with a rule that implemented the 2002 Lake Management Plan intent of banning all polluting two-strokes. That process was delayed as our response to unforeseen issues such as the unprecedented decline in lake levels and discovery of the invasive quagga mussel took precedence.
  • In addition, the PWC rule was rolled into a larger body of regulations for the use of PWCs in national parks. Those regulations were issued in response to a lawsuit brought against the National Park Service that sought to ban all PWC use in national parks nationwide.

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.
  • This video illustrates the difference between carbureted and direct-injection two-strokes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viWhxvo6DLk

How do I know if my PWC is compliant?

  • Look at your engine. Engines that meet the regulations should have an emission control information label that clearly states that they conform to clean emissions standards.
  • Information (click here to view) has been provided to Lake Mead National Recreation Area by PWC manufacturers. We are working with other manufacturers to broaden the list. If your vessel is not listed and you do not know whether your vessel meets the 2006 EPA emission standards for two-stroke engines, please contact the engine manufacturer or servicing mechanic.

How will park rangers determine if my engine isn't compliant?

  • Park rangers will receive extensive training on how to identify non-compliant PWCs. Combined with that knowledge, they will take into account operator knowledge, the model of the vessel, the engine type, and whether it's carbureted when determining compliance with the regulation.

What will happen if I bring my carbureted two-stroke PWC to the lake after Dec. 31, 2012?

  • PWCs that are not compliant will still be allowed to enter the park. National Park Service and concessioner staff will provide owners with a handout or verbal description of the regulation.
  • 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. Repeat offenders are subject to citations and fines.

Where else can I use my PWC if I can't use it on Lake Mead or Lake Mohave?

  • As of January 1, 2013, the same rule will go into effect for PWC's 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.

Did You Know?

A wash in a Wilderness Area

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." -- Nelson Mandela