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Boating Safety Ordinance

(Amended July 2001)

An ordinance Providing for the Safety of Boaters, Swimmers, and Others Using the Water of Spokane County and Providing Certain Regulations and Restrictions on the Use of Such Waters


6.03.010 - Definitions

The following words and terms as used herein shall be held and construed to have the following meanings:
  1. "Buoy" means a floating device or marker anchored in the water. All buoys, except for recreational buoys, shall comply with the Uniform State Waterway Marking System (UWMS). Additionally all buoys are subject to the Spokane County Shoreline Master Program which is administered by the Spokane County Division of Planning, Department of Public Works.
  2. "Buoy line" means a straight line that would exist if drawn between adjacent buoys.
  3. "Motorboat" means all boats and vessels that are self-propelled.
  4. "Moving water" shall be the Spokane River west from the Idaho/Washington state line to the Centennial Trail Bridge at Plants Ferry Park, from the City of Spokane west border to the Nine Mile Public Launch.
  5. "Operate" means to steer, direct or otherwise have physical control of a vessel that is underway.
  6. "Personal floatation device" means a buoyancy device, life preserver, buoyant vest, ring buoy or buoy cushion that is designed to float a person in the water and that has United States Coast Guard approval.
  7. "Personal water craft" means a vessel of less than sixteen feet that uses a motor powering a water jet pump as its primary source of motive power and that is designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing or kneeling, or being towed behind the vessel, rather than in the conventional manner of sitting or standing inside the vessel.
  8. "Shoreline" means the existing intersection of water, which includes permitted appendences, with the ground surface.
  9. "Underway" means that a vessel is not at anchor, or made fast to the shore, or a ground.
  10. "Vessel" means every description of watercraft on the water, other than a seaplane, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water. It does not include inner tubes, air mattresses, small rafts, floatation devices, or toys customarily used by swimmers.
  11. "Wake speed" means a speed not to exceed five miles per hour and not producing a wake to exceed six inches in height at its apex.
  12. "Water skiing" means the physical act of being towed behind a vessel on, but not limited to, any skis, aquaplane, kneeboard, tube, or a devise that requires the use of a tow prior to release such as a surfboard or any other similar device.
  13. "Waterway" any waters, lake, river, tributary canal, lagoon, or connecting waters within the unincorporated area of Spokane County.

6.03.020 - Personal flotation devices (PFD)

  1. No person may operate or permit to be operated a vessel underway, unless each person twelve years of age or younger thereon is wearing a personal flotation device.
  2. All persons regardless of age shall wear a personal flotation device while on moving water.

6.03.030 - Speed restrictions

  1. No person shall operate a vessel at a speed greater than fifty miles per hour on any waterway.
  2. No person shall operate a vessel in excess of wake speed when within 100 hundred feet of: a. Any Shoreline, b. Another moving or stationary vessel, c. Swimmer, d. SC.U.B.A. dive flag, or e. Buoy line.
  3. No person shall operate a vessel on any waterway that has a width of 200 feet or less at its widest point at a speed in excess of wake speed when within 50 feet of any: a. Shoreline; b. Another moving or stationary vessel; c. Swimmer d. Buoy line
  4. No person shall operate a vessel on the Spokane River between the Little Spokane Confluence and the Nine Mile Dam in excess of wake speed.
  5. No person shall operate a vessel on any waterway from one-half (1/2) hour after sunset to one-half (1/2) hour before sunrise at a speed in excess of fifteen miles per hour.

6.03.040 - SCUBA diving

  1. Any person engaged in SCUBA diving shall mark the area in which such operations are being conducted by the use of a divers’ flag, which is red with a white diagonal stripe, at least 12 by 12 inches.
  2. Any person engaged in SCUBA diving operations between sunset and sunrise shall mark such location in which such operations are being conducted by the use of a the divers' flag which is illuminated and visible for a distance of one mile.
  3. All persons engaged in a SCUBA operation shall remain within 50 feet of their diving flag upon surfacing.

6.03.050 - Skiing

  1. No person shall engage in water skiing, except on a take-off, within 100 feet of the shoreline. Any take-off from within 100 feet of the shoreline must be made outward and at right angles to the shoreline. At no time can such take-off cause risk or hazard to other vessels or persons on the water.
  2. No person or persons shall engage in water skiing within 100 feet of any boat launching ramp, motionless vessel, vessel underway, swimmer, buoy, or shoreline.
  3. All persons engaging in water skiing shall comply with speed and distance regulations set forth in this ordinance with respect to buoy lines and shorelines during the drop offs.
  4. No person operating a vessel shall follow behind a person (water skiing or being towed in any manner) closer than three hundred feet nor cross the towing vessels bow by less than 200 feet, nor come within 100 feet of the person being towed.
  5. No person shall engage in water skiing or any other recreational activity involving the act of being towed by a vessel on any waterway from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise.

6.03.060 - Operator age requirements

  1. No person under the age of ten years shall be allowed to operate a motorboat.
  2. Persons ten years of age to fourteen years of age may operate a motor driven boat of ten horsepower or less. Persons fourteen years of age and older may operate any motor driven boat.
  3. No owner of any vessel or person who is in control of a vessel shall knowingly permit the operation of such vessel upon any waterway in violation of the provisions of this section.

6.03.070 - Buoys

  1. Speed/ no-wake buoys also known as Regulatory markers shall be placed 100 feet from the established high water mark or 75 feet from an appendance. A permitted appendence, such as a dock, shall constitute the shoreline for the purpose of this section.
  2. Recreational buoys (i.e., slalom courses) shall be placed 100 feet from the established high water mark and if left unattended from sunset to sunrise shall be available for public use.
  3. Mooring buoys shall be placed within fifty feet of the shoreline. Provided, however, mooring buoys may be placed greater than fifty feet from the shoreline if such buoys are appropriately marked as provided for in the UWMS, illuminated and maintained with a bright flashing white light during the hours between sunset and sunrise.
  4. The Sheriff shall attached a bright colored notice giving the owner seven days to remove or replace any buoy in violation of the Uniform State Waterway Marking System. After the seventh day, the buoy may be removed by the Sheriff’s Office. Provided, however the Sheriff may remove any buoy, at any time, without notification to its owner, when the Sheriff’s Office deems the buoy to be a hazard to navigation.

6.03.080 - Hazard to navigation

No person may place or cause to be placed any ski, swim dock, buoy, or floating course in a waterways which creates a hazard to navigation.

6.03.090 - Motorized vessels prohibited-area

  1. No person shall operate a motorboat or personal watercraft on the Spokane River from its intersection with the west border of the City of Spokane to the west border of that area abutting the Spokane River commonly known and posted as "Plese Flats Day Use Area".
  2. No person shall operate a motor boat or personal water craft on the Spokane River from its intersection with the west side of the Barker road Bridge to its intersection with the west side of the Centennial Trail Bridge at Plant’s Ferry Park from April 16th to October 14th of any given year.
  3. This section does not apply to police, fire, or emergency vessels in enforcement, training, or rescue.

6.03.100 - Violation - Misdemeanor - Penalty

Any person violating any of the provisions of this ordinance shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the Spokane County Jail for a period of not more than ninety days, or pay a fine not more than one thousand dollars, or by both such imprisonment and fine.

6.03.110 - Violation - Civil Infraction - Penalty

In addition to or as an alternative to those provisions set forth in Section 6.03.100, a violation of any of the provisions of this Ordinance shall constitute a civil infraction subject to a monetary penalty in the amount as provided for in the Infraction Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction (IRLJ).

For the purpose of this Section, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department is the person authorized to enforce the provisions of this Ordinance.

The procedures for the issuance of a Notice of Infraction, hearings, assessment and payment of monetary penalties shall be in accordance with the provisions of chapter 7.80 RCW.

6.03.120 - Severability

If any section, subsection, sentence or clause of this chapter is for any reason held to be invalid, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining provisions of this chapter.

6.03.130 - Additional Provisions

The provisions of this Ordinance shall be in addition to and not a substitute for or limited of any other applicable laws.
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