New safety rules for our lakes

New safety rules and offences for operating boats on ACT-managed lakes will make our waterways safer places for Canberrans to enjoy.

We want more Canberrans to use our beautiful lakes and we want them to be safe. These new rules are now in effect and will help keep boat users safe and help prevent injury to other lake users.

The updated Lakes Act and new regulation introduces offences including on-the-spot fines for behaviours and actions that represent a risk to lake users. The ACT Water Police and Access Canberra will enforce the legislation.

Some of the offences that will attract fines include:

  • Operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Not wearing or carry a life jacket where required
  • Not carrying required safety equipment on a boat
  • Operating an unregistered boat
  • Breaching a condition of boat registration
  • Exceeding the speed limit
  • Exceeding the boat’s allowed power rating
  • Operating power boats near swimming areas
  • Misconduct on power boats and interfering with navigation aids and/or safety equipment
  • Contravening required boat lighting requirements when operating in low visibility or at night.

People who pose a risk to public safety, such as through drug and alcohol offences, may be fined up to $7500 and/or receive up to one year in prison. Other offences such as not wearing or carry a life jacket when required can result in an on-the-spot fine of $300.

The changes are in line with other jurisdictions, particularly surrounding NSW. The regulation supports the 2018 amendments to the Lakes Act 1976 in was developed in consultation with the ACT lakes managers, regulators and users groups.

The new rules apply to ACT managed lakes (Lake Ginninderra and Lake Tuggeranong) and the parts of Lake Burley Griffin managed by the ACT Government (Kingston Harbour and Molonglo River above Lake Burley Griffin). The new rules do not apply to Lake Burley Griffin, which is regulated by the National Capital Authority.

The Commonwealth is in the process of reviewing the legislation that applies to Lake Burley Griffin to ensure consistency with the new ACT laws.

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