OKOBOJI, Iowa (Iowa Media Wire) — The Iowa Great Lakes are a summer destination for a lot of Siouxlanders, but if you have a boat, the rules are changing – at least in the short term.

While geese may be enjoying the extra water in the Iowa Great Lakes, that extra water is causing problems for the shorelines and personal property like docks, boats and boat lifts. Because of the damage that the waves can cause to property, Dickinson County Emergency Management voted to implement a 5 mph limit for boats on all lakes in the county. This hasn’t happened since 2018.


“When the water gets high enough, it can actually start to affect the shoreline,” emergency management coordinator Mike Ehret said. “We did have some banks collapse in 2018. The ground was just so saturated, the constant waves beating against the shore just caused some of those high banks to collapse. We’re trying to prevent that. Of course we can’t prevent the wind from blowing and the wind creating waves, but we can try to prevent the boats from creating a wake and causing damage that way.”

The new rule went into effect Tuesday, June 18 at 4 p.m. Any boat caught going over the limit will be issued a citation for $95.

“We will be out as much as we have personnel to do,” DNR law enforcement captain Greg Harson said. “We will be out here enforcing those rules.”

Boaters also need to be aware of debris in the water caused by this past week’s storms.

“There is a lot of debris in the water right now which is causing a public hazard,” Harson said. “So that’s the main reason for this right now is all the debris floating. There’s dock planks that are 16 feet long and an inch and a half thick that, if you hit them with your boat, it’s going to leave a mark.”


The new rule could also have an economic effect. While some businesses may be negatively impacted, others may actually prosper.

“We cater to mostly fisherman here at the store,” Kabele’s Trading Post owner Thane Johnson said. “The fisherman actually kind of like it a little bit. They don’t have the pleasure boaters, the jet skiers out there tearing the lake up. We like that as well. We know this is a spot that people like to come do that. But for the fishermen, they would probably not have the pleasure boaters and jet skis out there.”

Johnson said not to let the speed limit affect any Okoboji plans you may have.

“Come up and see us,” he said. “We’re still the same lakes and everything. Just because you can’t go 50 miles per hour on the lake doesn’t mean you can’t come up and have some fun.”

Dickinson County Emergency Management is going to meet again this Friday to see if they can lift that wake rule.

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