Water Surface Use Management (WSUM)


Prior Lake City Hall (lower level)
4646 Dakota St. SE
Prior Lake, MN 55372


Water Resources Engineer
Pete Young
  (952) 447-9831

2015 WSUM Task Force

WSUM Task Force Final Report Studies & Reference List

Education for Lake Users

>Current WSUM Ordinance
>WSUM Ordinance Changes
>Upper Prior Lake WSUM Map
> Lower Prior Lake WSUM Map
> Spring Lake WSUM Map

Map of Lakes
WSUM Information

WSUM is one piece of a suite of regulations that apply to Minnesota lakes and rivers. Local zoning, state and federal water quality rules, and state boating laws all regulate our lakes in different ways.

Specific to lake use are the state boating laws and WSUM. The state boating laws are focused on the boat itself and address some lake use aspects. Specifically, the state boating laws address licensing, required safety equipment, general boat requirements and operation, capacity, Boating While Impaired (BWI), and towing. WSUM supplements the boating laws by providing a means of regulating water use based on local concerns specific to a water body.

The goal of water surface use management, as defined by state rules, is to enhance the recreational use, safety, and enjoyment of the water surfaces and to preserve these water resources in a way that reflects the state’s paramount concern for the protection of its natural resources. In pursuit of that goal, an ordinance or rule shall:

  1. Accommodate all compatible recreational uses where practical and feasible.
  2. Minimize adverse impact on natural resources.
  3. Minimize conflicts between users in a way that provides for maximum use, safety and enjoyment.
  4. Conform to the state standards.

The DNR is granted the authority by state statutes to oversee the creation of local WSUM regulations. In turn Counties, Cities, and Towns are given authority to create ordinances to regulate surface uses with state oversight. These authorities are limited to the following areas:

  1. Type and size of watercraft.
  2. Type and horsepower of motors.
  3. Speed of watercraft.
  4. Time of use.
  5. Area of use.
  6. The conduct of other activities on the water body where necessary to secure the safety of the public and the most general public use.

WSUM Regulations Apply to Prior Lake and Spring Lake

Prior Lake has had DNR-approved WSUM regulations in place since the early 1980s. Spring Lake did not have WSUM regulations until 2016, although statewide boating regulations have always been in place on both lakes. Recent changes to City of Prior Lake and Spring Lake Township ordinances mean WSUM regulations were significantly updated for Prior Lake for the first time since the mid-1990s, and WSUM regulations were added to Spring Lake for the first time. The WSUM Ordinance Changes document contains information on the 2016 ordinance updates. More information about the public process used to update the ordinance is contained in the WSUM Task Force Final Report.

Prior Lake & Spring Lake WSUM regulations summary:

Speed Limits & Effective Time
  • 40 mph maximum, sunrise to ½ hour after sunset (weekends & holidays, Memorial Day through Labor Day)
  • 20 mph maximum, ½ hour after sunset to sunrise
Area Zoning
  • Slow no-wake within 150 feet of shore at all times (launching/landing a person on water skis, wakeboards, kneeboards, or barefoot by the most direct and safe route is exempt from this provision)
  • Prior Lake marked slow no-wake zones defined in ordinance (Wagon Bridge Channel, Reed’s Island Channel, Lords Street Bridge Channel, Boudin’s Bay, Candy Cove, Mud Bay Channel, Paradise Bay)
  • No inflatable water toys, air mattresses, or inner tubes more than 150 feet from shore, unless accompanied by a watercraft
  • No swimming more than 150 feet from shore, unless accompanied by a watercraft
  • No watercraft towing a person on water skis, inner tube, aquaplane or similar device shall be operated at any time within a marked slow no-wake zone on Prior Lake
High Water Slow No-Wake
  • Slow no-wake on entire surface of Prior Lake when water reaches an elevation of 903.9 (the lake’s Ordinary High Water elevation)
  • Slow no-wake on entire surface of Spring Lake when water reaches an elevation of 912.8 (the lake’s Ordinary High Water elevation)
  • Effective as of first posting on the City’s website
  • Public accesses must be posted during entire restriction period
  • Removed when water remains below the Ordinary High Water elevation for 72 consecutive hours

WSUM Education Task Force

The Prior Lake City Council and Spring Lake Township Board, as part of the WSUM ordinance public process, ordered the formation of a new WSUM Education Task Force to assist lake users with learning about WSUM regulations. One of the lessons learned during the WSUM public process was that many lake users were unaware of the previous WSUM regulations, and now that updates to the ordinance have been made, the Council and Board agreed that more education is needed to help users maximize their enjoyment of our lakes. The WSUM Task Force will be meeting during the fall and winter of 2016-2017, with the goal of providing helpful information to our residents starting with the 2017 boating season. Updates from the WSUM Education Task Force will be posted to this webpage.

WSUM Enforcement

The purpose of enforcement is to protect public safety. The Scott County Sheriff’s Office is responsible for water patrol on all Scott County lakes, including Prior Lake and Spring Lake. Both lakes are patrolled regularly by the Sheriff’s Office. Residents can report suspected boating violations by calling Dispatch at 952-445-1411.

Prior Lake and Spring Lake both have a number of regulatory and warning buoys to mark hazards and slow no-wake zones. The Sheriff’s Office stores and places these buoys each year. There are also smaller private marker buoys used to mark the 150-foot slow no-wake zone around the shoreline (orange ball shaped). Private property owners can purchase these markers and need a free permit from the Sheriff’s Office to place them (automatically renewed each year). Property owners are responsible for storing their own marker buoys. Contact the Sheriff’s Office at 952-496-8300 for more information. A Marker Buoy Permit is available on the Scott County website..