Two-Stroke Vessel Engines
Facts About Two-Stroke Vessel Engines
Local Restrictions on Personal Watercraft and/or Two Stroke Engines
State law allows local public agencies to regulate boating in certain categories: Three of those apply here and are listed below:
1. Speed Zone
2. Special-use Areas
3. Sanitation and Pollution Control
A special-use area is all or a portion of a waterway that is set aside for specified activities to the exclusion of other incompatible uses or activities. Below is a list of waterways with local personal watercraft (PWC) or two-stroke bans or restrictions: NOTE: Many of these restrictions were passed because of conflicts between PWC and other boating activities, before the advent of the environmental issues with two-stroke engines. In addition, there are many other lakes (not listed here) where boating of one type or another has never been allowed.
|Anderson and Calero Reservoirs, Santa Clara Valley Water District - Allow PWCs that meet CA Air Resources Board 2001 standards. May implement further restrictions if any gas-related chemical contamination detected in periodic water sampling.||3||July 2004|
|Anderson Reservoir -170 watercraft per day allowed. Calero Reservoir - 60 to 70 watercraft per day allowed. Coyote Reservoir -1 watercraft per six surface acres (Santa Clara Valley Water District Reservoirs)||3||Aug. 2004|
|Bass Lake, County of Madera – Area set aside for PWC.||1,2||June 1995|
|Berkeley Marina – No PWC within 1500 ft. of the shoreline or fishing pier except in the 200 ft. wide access corridor designated by Harbormaster from a boat launch ramp at marina to a point further than 1500 ft. from shoreline.||2||2006|
|Canyon Lake, County of Riverside – No PWC.||2||June 1991|
|City of Carlsbad – PWC restricted on part of Agua Hedionda Lagoon.||1,2||May 1994|
|City of Los Angeles – Pier 300 shallow water habitat. No PWC.||2||April 1993|
|City of Pacifica – No PWC on specified ocean beaches.||2||April 1990|
|City and County of San Francisco – No PWC within 1,200 ft. from shoreline (with exceptions).||2||Oct. 1998|
|City of Sausalito – No PWC launching or retrieving.||2||April 1994|
|Collins Lake Recreation Area, Collins Lake (private) – No PWC.||2||May 1991|
|County of Marin, All Waterways – No PWC.||2||Nov. 1999|
|County of Santa Cruz – PWC prohibited within 300 yds. of shore, except to launch or land.||2||June 1990|
|Coyote Lake – Max. 35 PWC per day. From May 1-June 1, powerboats allowed with receipt issued within past 2 days from any of 5 area stations selling non-MTBE gas.||3||May 2000|
|Diamond Valley Lake and Lake Skinner - No PWC. Only engines that are 4-stroke, 2-stroke equipped with direct fuel-injection or 2-stroke engines that comply with 2001 or later CA Air Resources Board emissions standards and use MTBE-free fuel. ADDITIONAL RESTRICTIONS||3||June 2003|
|Donner Lake, Town of Truckee –- Prohibition of high emission two-stroke engines only if water fails to meet State drinking water standards.||3||July 1999|
|Farallones National Marine Sanctuary – No PWC off Sonoma and Marin County coasts, from Bodega Head to Rocky Pt., near Stinson Beach.||Federal||Oct. 2001|
|Lakes Tahoe, Cascade, Fallen Leaf, and Echo - Dept. of Boating and Waterways and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency – Motorboats must meet 2001 CA Air Resources Board emissions standard. (Carbureted and NON-direct fuel injection engines prohibited)||2||June 1999|
|Los Vaqueros Reservoir, Contra Costa Water District – All motorboats are prohibited.||3||Aug. 1998|
|Millerton Lake, Fraint, CA. Read the public notice.||3||May 2013|
|Mission Bay, City of San Diego – Area set aside for PWC.||2||July 1988|
|Modesto Reservoir, County of Stanislaus – Two-stroke vessels allowed only with MTBE-free fuel.||3||Mar. 2000|
|Monterey Marine Sanctuary – Restricted Use of PWC||Federal||July 1996|
|Pine Crest Lake, County of Tuolumne – No PWC.||2||Mar 1990|
|Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area, National Park Service – No PWC.||Federal||April 2000|
|Scotts Flat Lake, County of Nevada – No PWC.||2||Sept. 2004|
|Seal Slough (Marina Lagoon), City of San Mateo – No PWC.||2||July 1988|
|San Pablo Reservoir, East Bay Municipal Utilities District – (a) Only four-strokes or equivalent emission level allowed.||3||Jan. 2000|
|San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area (San Luis Reservoir, O'Neill Fore Bay, and Los Banos Creek Reservoir). Read the public notice.||3||July 2015|
|Whiskeytown Lake, National Park Service -No PWC||Federal||April 2002|
Explanation Of Two-Stroke Vessel Engine Regulations And Restrictions
Boaters may have heard erroneous information from vessel repair shops, mechanics, or marine retailers that they will no longer be able to legally use their vessel on California waterways.
The fact is, there is no statewide prohibition on the use of high emission two-stroke vessel engines, and there is no plan to prohibit them.
The state regulations, from the California Air Resources Board (ARB) Recreational Marine Engine Program, are directed at the manufacture and sale of NEW marine gasoline two-stroke engines. ("New" means the engine has never been sold to an end-user.) The ARB regulations ordered vessel engine manufacturers to build cleaner emission engines meeting increasingly strict standards with steps in 2001, 2004, and 2008. These ARB regulations do not affect the use of any vessels on waterways, other than the fact that consumers will obtain improved gas mileage from the new models now on the market.
A number of cities, counties or districts have adopted ordinances on drinking water reservoirs that restrict or ban the use of high emission, carbureted or electronic fuel injection (EFI) two-stroke marine engines.
There are no salt-water or river restrictions based solely on high emission vessel engines.
Cleaner technology direct-injection two-stroke marine engines, manufactured since 1999, can be used on all waterways in California, except for some waterways that have generic prohibitions, such as banning all motorboats or all personal watercraft.
For more information, and a list of bans and restrictions, please visit, and direct your customers to, the Division of Boating and Waterways' website on this topic: http://www.dbw.ca.gov/Environmental/TwoStroke/.
We hope this clears up any confusion about this subject. Should you have any questions, please contact Gloria Sandoval at (916) 651-5692.
Frequently Asked Questions About ARB's Clean Vessels Regs
Editor's Note: The California Air Resources Board's new regulations requiring manufacturers to reduce emissions from new outboard and personal watercraft engines will become effective in three stages--2001, 2004 and 2008. ARB believes that by 2010, the regulations will achieve a 30-ton-per-day reduction of hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen over the current U.S. EPA standards, and 44 tons per day by 2020. ARB estimates that carbureted two-stroke engines discharge up to 20-30 percent of their fuel unburned into the air and water.
ARB will also require that each new engine be provided with a label to certify that the engine complies with the new regulations. The label will feature from one to three stars, depending on the emission level, with three stars indicating the lowest level of exhaust emissions.
New Standards for Cleaner Watercraft