Ensuring Water Quality & Boating Safety
The Lake Zoar Authority is a multi-town organization consisting of representatives from the four towns that border the lake – Monroe, Newtown, Oxford, and Southbury. The Lake Zoar Authority is tasked with the goals of improving water quality and promoting safe boating on the lake.
The LZA has the power to manage water quality and boating safety issues on the lake only. Please contact your town’s Parks and Recreation department for access issues, including those related to passes, public beaches, requests and public property maintenance.
Water quality is a primary area of focus for the Lake Zoar Authority. Beginning in 2020, Western Connecticut State University’s Cyanobacteria Monitoring Program includes Lake Zoar in a weekly water testing program. The annual program monitors Cyanobacteria in regional lakes during the summer months when blooms are most likely. When Microcystin toxin levels exceeded federal and state limits, public beaches are closed. The towns and DEEP also test water at public beaches.
The LZA’s role is information gathering. The LZA also participates in water studies to learn more about the changing conditions of the water. In addition to quality, the LZA has an extensive program to control the growth of invasive weeds. As funds allow, the most infested areas are treated with an herbicide that is used in over 150 lakes in CT each year. The herbicides are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and applied by professional lake managers in coordination with FirstLight Power Resources, Inc. The herbicides selectively eradicate undesirable plants by disrupting their specific growth processes without impacting native plants. People and pets can continue to safely use the lake without risk. Management of invasive plants helps to maintain enjoyable recreational access to the lake and maintain an ecosystem balance.
An objective of the LZA is to be a resource for the users of the lake. A primary means of education is the safety inspections performed throughout the summer by the marine patrol. The LZA coordinates information from Marine Patrol and the CT DEEP, to help all users of the lake understand more about safe boating and responsible use of the lake.
Remember, Connecticut residents are required to have a Connecticut Safe Boating Certificate or Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation on their person when operating a boat/PWC in CT. Individuals must successfully complete an approved basic boating course to obtain a certificate. (There are many sources for the safe boating classes including the USCG Auxiliary, see link below for more information.)
Special Information Regarding Wakes:
A watercraft pushes water out of its path in order to move, creating an unnatural wave of water known as a wake. With increasing speeds, the wake becomes more forceful and the risk of danger to the operator and surrounding vessels, people, and property significantly increases. Large wakes, even those from small personal watercraft such as jet-ski, can cause a boating accident, distress to swimmers, damage to docks, and shoreline erosion. Boater must remember that Connecticut law, under Title 15 Navigation and Aeronautics, section 15-121-B14, prohibits speeds above 6MPH within 100 feet of shore, dock or a pier, float, or anchored or moored vessel, unless taking off or landing a water-skier. Boaters are responsible for damage caused by their wake, and speeding infractions can result in an $80 fine. Offenses involving serious damage or injury carry charges of reckless or negligent operation, which can result in a $1,000 fine, imprisonment up to six months, or both. Boaters must follow posted speed limits to prevent accidents and maintain enjoyable use of the lake for everyone. Marine Patrol enforces speed limits, receives complaints from boaters and residents, and reports sightings of violations and issued infractions to the LZA.
Please visit the CT DEEP’s web library to read the most recent copy of the Connecticut Boater’s Rules and Resources Guide.
Title 15 Navigation and Aeronautics Law is available here.