Limiting Horsepower on the Lake


Lake Macbride, iowa

The photo above, taken from Lake Macbride and looking over the spillway, left and dam right, to Coralville Lake, illustrates that the two lakes are as close as the dam depicted in the map below suggests.  

This allows those who wish to use boats with higher horsepower motors to use Coralville Lake, leaving Lake Macbride for the users of less maneuverable, slower moving boats.  Much like a roadway with a bicycle path or sidewalk beside it protects those slower moving bicyclists or pedestrians, this situation serves instead because lakes are not easily divided by lanes.  Sailboats must tack back and forth to pursue their goal and sculling hulls are extremely vulnerable.  

Even with great numbers of patrol boats, Macbride could not easily be patrolled for speed because of its many bends and blind corners. Thus the 10 horsepower limit is most suitable to provide for safe recreation for both types of boating.


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The Motor Size Restriction Should be Retained at 10 hp

1. LakeMacbride attracts people BECAUSE it has motor size regulations that limit speed and minimize wakes, both of which can be dangerous to those operating slow-moving and less maneuverable boats such as fragile sculling hulls, sailboats, canoes, kayaks and paddleboats, especially those operated by children.

Example: On is a report of an Oskaloosa man who came to Lake Macbride to kayak and of paddlers from Des Moines, Indianola, Fort Madison and Marion.  Oskaloosa is near Lake Keomah, Indianola is near Lake Ahquabi and Des Moines is near Big Creek so why would these paddlers drive this distance?   Presumably they drive to Lake Macbride for variety but also because Lake Macbride offers a safe, quiet haven for its users as a result of its motor size restrictions.

2. To be fair to all potential lake users, we need to supply areas where slower moving and less maneuverable boats are safely operated, much as we supply paths for bicycles beside roads as well as sidewalks for walkers.   With Coralville Lake just across the dam, Lake Macbride is ideally suited to serve slower boats while allowing those with unlimited motor size to use the adjacent lake, see map on the reverse.

Example: On it is stated that Coralville Lake has 5340 acres but is not often used by sailboats due to heavy use by power boats but Lake Macbride which is adjacent to Coralville Lake with its 10 hp motor limit accommodates sailing well even though it occupies less than 1000 acres. 

3. Many other states in the Midwest region have different regulations on boating depending upon the lake and its special qualifications so there is precedent for Iowa to maintain different regulations on lakes which require them for safe operation.   Several properties that are important to assure safety on Lake Macbride are:

  • Sharp bends and narrow connecting spaces around or through which speeding boats would be prone to collide with slow moving boats. 

  • An exposed swimming beach that would be at risk if larger motors were allowed without concomitant  expenditures in order to patrol speeds.  

  • A tradition of sail boat races, sculling races, childrens’ canoeing lessons and paddleboats all of which would be at risk if larger motors were allowed to ply its waters.

Adjoining states with unique boating regulations include our neighbors in Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin all of which restrict motor size on specific lakes and Nebraska which restricts speed.

4.  Public use areas are normally subject to different rules for different spaces.  Equestrian spaces, all terrain vehicles, cross country skiing, biking, skating, skate boards and snowmobiles occupy different spaces in public places.  Where water is concerned, the spaces must be separate or heavily patrolled at a level that is not consistent with the state’s resources.   Thus the 10 hp limit on Macbride is important.

5.  Lake Macbride is unique in that its establishment was facilitated by a group of citizens whose purchase of lots paid for the procurement of the land that was then turned over to the state for the lake.   It was intended to conserve resources and become a haven for those enjoying nature and quiet sports as voiced by its organizers at its dedication in 1934 in a speech by Eugene A. Gilmore, who established the precedent: