Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

September 27, 2017

Randy Simons | Dan Keefe
(518) 486-1868 |

New York State Ends 5 MPH Boating Speed Limit Along St. Lawrence River

Reduced water levels allow normal boating activity to resume on River

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation today rescinded a five mile per hour boating speed limit within 600 feet of the St. Lawrence Seaway shoreline, effective immediately. The speed limit is no longer in effect on the St. Lawrence Seaway beginning at Tibbitts Point near Cape Vincent in Jefferson County. The 5 mph speed limit on vessels operating within 600 feet of shore on Lake Ontario remains in effect until October 2.

State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "Water levels have dropped significantly on the St. Lawrence River in recent weeks. Lifting the speed limit will allow regular boating activity and tourism events to resume and help communities along the river get back to normal."

The speed limit was first implemented on May 29 due to flooding along the St. Lawrence Seaway and Lake Ontario. Waves created by boat wakes can exacerbate shoreline erosion, further threatening residential and municipal infrastructure. Reduced speeds result in reduced boat wakes and lessen the wave action along the shore. Reduced speeds help to ensure safe boating, as many hidden hazards and debris have been covered by elevated water levels and can threaten boaters.

Under normal conditions, boaters are required to obey the five mile per hour speed limit within 100 feet of the shore, dock, pier, raft, float, or anchored boat. When no speed limit is posted, vessels must always be operated in such a fashion so as not to endanger others. A vessel must be able to stop safely within the clear space ahead and a vessel operator is always responsible for any damage caused by the vessel's wake.