Excessive Noise Limits Proposed on Oregon Waterways

June 1, 2022 - Should it be legal for Sheriffs to stop and cite Oregon boaters if they think their engine or music are too loud? Even if the noise falls below the current legal decibel limit! This egregious proposal to the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) is backed by 300+ petition signatures and will soon become a reality if the boating community does not speak up now.

Oregon Families for Boating is urging local boaters and small businesses to take five minutes today to oppose the continued over-regulation of Oregon’s waterways. Oppose the petition by emailing the OSMB before June 26, 2022, at 11:59 pm at osmb.rulemaking@boat.oregon.gov. Sample talking points are available below.

This time Portland-area Willamette River waterfront homeowners are attempting to turn their frustrations against one nuisance jet-skier into permanent, STATEWIDE changes to Oregon waterway laws.

Their proposal, which the OSMB is considering, would add a new subjective ordinance called a “Narrative Standard” for noise emitting from ALL motorboats and personal watercraft. This means ANY Oregon boater could receive a citation if the officer subjectively thinks their engine or music are too loud, even if the noise falls below the legal decibel limit. Narrative Standards also put an undue burden on law enforcement officers to respond to complaints from anyone who simply thinks a boat noise might be too loud. Our first responders are already stretched thin and should be supported to focus on keeping Oregon’s waterways safe.

The proposal targets personal watercraft users by restricting activities like flips or aerial tricks. Oregon waterways are already highly regulated. This needless rule unfairly punishes this user segment, a vast majority of which are respectfully using Oregon waterways and practicing safe and responsible boating. This is about a few people attempting to impose their preferences on others.

Oregon Families for Boating supports one aspect of the petition – lowering the shoreline decibel limit from 84 to 75. This level is widely recognized by leading boating associations and is the standard adopted by most western states. The vast majority of boats and personal watercraft manufactured in the last two decades fall well below this limit. The decrease has already been adopted temporarily by the OSMB and is expected to become permanent later this year. Our state waterways should be available for everyone to enjoy safely and responsibly. The 75-decibel limit already achieves this goal.

The Oregon boating community must act now and voice opposition to this proposal. Below are a few sentences to consider including in your email to osmb.rulemaking@boat.oregon.gov. A short message with a few points is sufficient. Join us in ensuring recreational boating’s future in Oregon. Oppose this petition today!

Opposition Message Talking Points:

• I oppose the petition to amend the rule pertaining to watercraft noise in Oregon

• The new 75-decibel limit sufficiently regulates noise on our waterways

• Narrative Standards are too subjective and leave boaters open to unnecessary stops and unfair citations based solely on opinion

• Narrative Standards put an undue burden on law enforcement officers to respond to complaints from waterfront homeowners who simply think that a boat noise might be too loud

• A singular issue on one small section of the Willamette River should not dictate statewide waterway policies

• Our waterway policies should favor the public, not waterfront homeowners who choose to live on busy waterways

• The proposal unfairly targets personal watercraft users, a vast majority of which are respectfully using Oregon waterways and practice safe and responsible boating

• Oregon’s waterways are already highly regulated

The full petition can be viewed here: