Watch Your Wake!
Watch Your Wake!

Watch Your Wake!

Understanding how to minimize your impact while enjoying recreation on the lake benefits not only you but all users of the lake – including people, birds, fish and wildlife! Each lake has unique physical, ecological and chemical features with differing recreational capacities and will respond differently to various stressors. For example, Lake Windermere has a soft sediment bottom and is a slow widening of the Columbia River with an average depth of only 3-4 meters!

Did you know that type of boat and speed influences wake size? Some powerboats can disturb lake bottoms of around 6 meters deep and a downward propeller wash can stir up lake beds (especially soft bottom lakes, like Lake Windermere). Studies show that boat wakes in shallow waters can reintroduce previously settled phosphorus, nutrients and heavy metals back into the water column, and can increase turbidity. This can have a negative effect on drinking water and overall water quality while increasing the likelihood of algae blooms. Studies have also shown that propellers can rip up sensitive aquatic vegetation in shallow areas, affect native mussel habitat, and disrupt spawning beds and fish populations.

Boat wakes not only disturb lake bottoms but also impact shorelines. These transition zones, where the land meets the water, are unique and often highly productive ecosystems. High wave energy from boat wakes can cause an increase in the rate of erosion of these shorelines, swamp shorebird nesting sites, and damage human infrastructures such as retaining walls, homes and docks. Lake Windermere sees thousands of boaters each year, and all this impact adds up!

Here are a few simple ways boaters can help to reduce these impacts on our lake.

  1. If you are traveling within 30 meters of the shore, a slower speed can help reduce the impact that the wake creates.
  2. If you are traveling in areas less than 6 meters in depth, going at a slower speed can help to reduce sediment resuspension. In Lake Windermere, there is a small area where the depth reaches around 6 meters. A depth map can be found on our website. If you are needing to travel at faster speeds, consider using this stretch of the lake.
  3. If boating at faster speeds, travel in straight lines up and down the middle of the lake and avoid going in circles, this helps to create more room for other boats in the deeper section of the lake.
  4. If you wish to be anchored or stationary, please avoid doing so in the deepest area on the lake, allowing for others wishing to travel at faster speeds the space to do so.
  5. Pay attention to your depth reader (if your boat is equipped with one). 
  6. Learn more about how you can protect your lake on our website!


The Ambassadors have begun a Recreation Impact and Capacity Assessment study on the lake. The aim is to understand human impacts on Lake Windermere’s aquatic ecosystems and focuses on recreational impacts on water quality, drinking water sources, ecologically significant habitats, and aquatic life. The study will result in comprehensive mapping of preferred areas for recreation and will make recommendations on the quantity or density of vessels a particular area can safely support without harming people or aquatic habitats. The study will highlight areas of concern prone to sediment disturbance, drinking water intakes, sensitive habitats such as kokanee and burbot spawning and rearing areas, and significant habitat for trout, native mussels, and waterfowl. The study will provide the information necessary for individuals to adapt their boating behaviour to minimize the impact on Lake Windermere while continuing to enjoy the lake’s fantastic recreation opportunities. It will also create a baseline for our community to work together to conserve Lake Windermere’s biodiversity and protect its water quality for years to come for our children and future generations!

We are grateful to our generous sponsors and funders who support our work.



Ecoscape Environmental Consultants Ltd. & Larratt Aquatic Ltd. “Lake Windermere Recreational Impact and Sediment Quality Assessment Windermere Lake.” Windermere-Recreational-Study-Report-V1.0.pdf (

Lake Windermere Ambassadors “Green Boating Guide” Green-Boating-Guide.pdf (

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