Missouri Water Patrol releases revised regulations governing buoys

Joyce L. Miller

Although not as stringent as the first round of proposed buoy rules, there are some significant changes to the regulations, including a provision for signs on docks without navigational markers to warn boaters to slow down.

The rules were unveiled Monday by the Missouri Water Patrol after months of discussion and public comment.

Capt. Matt Walz said the final proposed rules represent a good compromise.

Not every dock will have a buoy and those that don’t can use signs to warn boaters of the law. The controversial proposal to do away with permits for buoys at private docks was taken out, he said. 

The proposed rules will not have any impact on no-wake coves.

Although the rules have not been finalized, Walz said the moratorium on applying for buoy permits has been lifted. Dock owners wanting to apply for a permit will need to follow the proposed rules, he said.

The proposed rules also require buoys to be clearly marked, making it harder for dock owners to put unpermitted markers on the water.

The proposed rules will allow the Water Patrol to minimize the number of no-wake, idle-speed buoys to the actual number needed to help boaters recognize the distance boats must stay from docks above idle speed without causing unnecessary confusion.

The proposed rules also make some changes in the permitting process that dock owners will be required to follow, he said. 

The most common type of buoys on the lake are no-wake, idle-speed buoys placed as reminders of the distance boats traveling above idle speed must stay from docks.

The Water Patrol approves approximately 140 permits annually. An estimated 4,000 buoy permits are already on the books at Lake of the Ozarks.

Under the proposed rules, Walz said the Water Patrol will be able to better manage permitted buoys and make it easier to monitor compliance. 

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