Feel free to take a copy of this report to the LakeBoat meeting in Adams County tonight.


Condition Report

To Accompany Ordinance ____-__ to create ______________  of the Municipal Code of the Town of Rome, Wisconsin

Hazardous Wakes

Scope Note  This Condition Report is in response to specification outlined in WDNR PUB-LE-317- 2016, “A Guideline for Creating Local Boating Ordinances and Placing Waterway Markers in Wisconsin Waters”. As stated in PUB-LE-317-2016 (p7), “The Condition Report is an integral document to identify the need and justification for the ordinance.” Information contained in this report is deemed to be accurate and complete as of October 2023.

Introduction   With the advent of specialty boating designs consisting of new and enhanced wake manipulation devices as well as innovative designs to increase the wake of certain boats, this activity has lead to increased friction with other boaters, lake shore owners and conservation principles. The purpose of these new designs is to increase the size of a boats wake and enabling a person to “surf” behind the boat without the use of a rope. The speed of the boat is greatly reduced as opposed to water skiing, tubing and other activities so as to create several hazards specific to the 3 lakes comprising the Tri-Lakes District, namely Lake Camelot, Lake Sherwood and Lake Arrowhead. Residents have raised concerns about the size of our lakes, the narrow formation of each lake as well as the lake condition relative to current lake health.

The lakes were created in the late 1960’s and early 70’s and have been the main attraction to the Town of Rome and have been the catalyst in recent years for an explosion in housing sales and new home construction.                                                                                                                                                                The Tri-Lakes Management District was formed in 1984 by property owners of the three lake associations – Lakes Arrowhead, Camelot and Sherwood in the Town of Rome and Adams County. A statutory taxing body, the District is guided by a board of five commissioners, one from each lake association plus one representative from the Town of Rome Board and one from the Adams County Board.                                                                                                                                                           

The people of Rome take great pride in the sustainability of the lakes to ensure continued use for future generations. Over the last several years we have noted a steady decline in the water quality of our lakes.

Geographic Setting The Tri-Lakes of Rome consist 3 lakes and are predominately fed by the 14 Mile Creek Watershed. The watershed has been impacted by agricultural use and runoff of various chemicals and pesticides. The 3 lakes were formed by the expansion of 14 Mile Creek and vegetation buried along the new shoreline and properties have also had an impact on the water conditions. Several tests have been performed over the years including a sediment boring study in 2000. Another sediment boring study was performed in February of 2022. Both indicated a presence of Phosphates and Nitrates with the latter study mentioning specific hotspots of chemicals in the sediment at several locations. The 2000 study also noted certain heavier concentrations, especially in Lake Sherwood, the oldest lake, but not to make any assumptions as to the cause. This information is another concern for wake boating on the 3 lakes and will be discussed in the regulation condition recommendations. Regular testing of the 3 lakes and watershed has been performed for the last several years and has been entered into the DNR’s SWIMS program.


Lake Camelot consists of 2 bodies of water connected by a channel approximately 1.25 miles long. There are a total of 445 acres for both Lower and Upper Camelot. The lake has a maximum depth of 24’ with 19% of the lake under 3’ and 3% of the lake over 20’. The mean depth of the lake is 9’. The lake is fed by the 14 Mile Watershed starting at the bridge at 8th Avenue. The lake has a shoreline of 18 miles

The lake water clarity is low.


Lake Sherwood is 216 acres and the second lake in the chain of 3 lakes. It is fed by Lower Camelot with a gated dam. Lake Sherwood has a maximum depth of 27’ with a mean depth of 10’. The area under 3’ is 7.5% and over 20’ is 8%. The lake has a shoreline of 7.8 miles.

The lake water clarity is low.

Lake Sherwood has been on the DNR’s impaired list since 2014.


Lake Arrowhead is 295 acres and is fed at the East end by the dam on Lake Sherwood. This lake has a dam at the West end and feeds into Lake Petenwell via 14 Mile Creek. The lake has a maximum depth of 25.2’ with 9% of the lake under 3’ and 5.2% of the lake over 20’. It has a mean depth of 10’.

The lake water clarity is low.

Lake Arrowhead has been on the DNR’s impaired list since 2014.


All 3 lakes are considered Eutrophic which are lakes rich in nutrients that supports dense plant population, the decomposition which kills animal life by deprivation of oxygen. This has occurred quite rapidly considering they were constructed less than 60 years ago.


All 3 lakes suffer from various invasive species: Banded Mystery Snail, Chinese Mystery Snail, Curly-Leaf Pondweed, Eurasian Water-Milfoil, Hybrid Eurasian / Northern Water-Milfoil, Purple Loosestrife and Zebra Mussels.

Regulation Conditions Recommendations  After evaluating several studies as noted in the appendix, we have identified 5 hazardous, critical conditions relating to our 3 lakes: Personal Safety, Property Damage, Shoreline Erosion, Bottom of the Lake scouring and Invasive Species. This is in addition to the inability of boaters to enjoy their hobby when they have to look out for a wake boat and then to position themselves for the waves. Even though they may be prepared for the wave, they may be tossed severely about as a wake hits them. Those who do not see one coming can suffer injury as has already happened.

The analysis from several studies indicate the waves created by a wake manipulative device equipped boat can induce waves from 3’ to 4’ in height that take a tremendous amount of time to fully deplete their energy. Studies indicate these waves may require up to 700’ to fully dissipate while other studies claim the waves are typical to other non equipped boats after 200’. The studies also review the force created by these boats are stronger than a typical non equipped manipulative device boat.

 “Many boats designed for wake sport recreation have internal ballast tanks (or related equipment) in addition to mechanical wake altering devices, which are filled with water after launch to increase displacement and wave height. After wake sport use, water in ballast tanks is emptied (though never completely emptied to dry) back into the lake. Any boat transported between lakes risks movement and introduction of AIS between water bodies through this routine filling and emptying of ballast tanks. By increasing the displacement of the boat, using hull forms (or other devices), and equipped with very powerful engines, recreational wake sport boats impart very large quantities of energy and induce a large wave immediately behind the boat”.                                                                                                          “The height of wave’s decreases with distance behind the boat but the number of waves (frequency) increases and total energy is conserved. Much of the energy imparted by a boat will be expended on the shore and lake sediments”. “While a significant portion of the energy applied by a recreational wake-inducing boat is diffused when the initial wave curls and breaks behind the boat, much of the energy continues to travel through the fluid medium until it is disturbed. In inland lakes this occurs when the waves encounter shallower waters”. “As the water becomes shallower, the swell becomes higher and steeper, ultimately assuming the familiar sharp-crested wave shape. After the wave breaks, it becomes a wave of translation and erosion of the bottom intensifies”. Additionally, the force exerted by the downward propulsion of the propeller can cause scouring of the lake bottom down to 20’.*                 *Expt. VII-2: Understanding Boat Wakes (

  • Personal Safety, we have had a few cases of personal injury and near injury due to the large wake affecting other boaters, swimmers and others. One report was a fractured leg when a wave hit the boat broadside and knocked the occupant from her seat. We’ve also heard from others who have had their children hit with waves on the shore knocking them over. We’ve also heard from people whose pets were pulled under or knocked off boats and piers. This activity has also caused several pontoon boats to have their entire decks washed over with wakes that they have encountered. We have paddle boards and kayaks using our waters and the distance in some cases is relatively small when a wake boat reaches the end of a lake and must turn around. We have had reports of kayaks overturned as well as paddleboards getting swamped and becoming unstable.
  • Property Damage, several reports have been made concerning damage caused by large wakes rocking and causing boats to hit piers, boat lifts and other boats.

 Sheet metal is bent in from a wave from a wake boat. Took wave slightly above idle at 45 degree angle. Oversize pontoons so not low to the waterline.  And another report of a boat owner working on his uncovered engine when a wave crashed over the engine getting water in the engine compartment.

  • Shoreline erosion, as noted in the studies, the wave action from a wake induced boat requires a substantial increase in distance to become benign and non-threatening. All 3 lakes are narrow bodies of water that are very poor candidates for the constant pounding of water on the shorelines and a police officer witnessed a wave from a wake boat continue on to shore and erode a 10’ length of shoreline when it hit. This picture is an example of erosion, although we cannot confirm its source.



  • Lake Bottom Scouring: as explained above we have sediment in our lakes containing several nutrients and chemicals that are unleashed through scouring that will induce additional plant life, algae blooms and cause additional harm to our aquatic life. We have already observed a reduction in reproduction of various species of fish and reduced habitat for nesting.
  • We have had several different invasive species already introduced to our lakes and the inability of a wake boat to fully empty their bladders will surely allow for the introduction of more and possibly more destructive invasive species.


The relative size of our 3 lakes and the fact that the width of each is quite narrow, it is reasonable to request that wake boats or any other boats equipped as such, are not allowed to use their ballast, wake manipulation devices and must be on plane within a reasonable distance to avoid the waves created by their slow speed, hull design and any manipulation of the waves. We would also suggest that the form of riding a wave without a tow rope not be allowed.

“Wake boats scour bottom sediments harming plant life and spawning grounds, stir up sediments creating murkier water and reintroducing phosphorous and other nutrients into the water promoting algal blooms, the waves erode shorelines, impact anglers and kayakers and pontoon boats, and on and on. Rather than continue with all the reasons why wake boat activities should be banned from all but our very largest and deepest lakes”. John Bates: Wake Boats – Ban Them — Last Wilderness Alliance


Water Condition Lists | Impaired Waters, Restoration Waters and Healthy Waters | Wisconsin DNR

SafeWakes | wave damage from wake board boating

Arrowhead Wisconsin Lakes

Camelot Wisconsin Lakes

Sherwood Wisconsin Lakes