Noise Pollution Clearinghouse

"Good neighbors keep their noise to themselves."

Jet Skis Banned in National Parks
Study Shows Banning Jet Skis Saves Millions in Noise Pollution Costs

Drowning in Noise,
Executive Summary
Drowning in Noise,
Full Text
Drowning in Noise,
Park Service Rules,
Effective April 20, 2000

Noise from jet skis is now a $1 billion problem in the United States, and a growing one. Only bans on usage such as those that took effect April 20, 2000 in National Parks will curb jet ski noise, concludes DROWNING IN NOISE: NOISE COSTS OF JET SKIS IN AMERICA, a 76-page report published this Thursday by the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse. The report is the product of two years of research and analysis by economist Charles Komanoff and mathematician Dr. Howard Shaw.

The federal government has recognized that jet ski noise is a problem. "The National Park law is a good first step but we need to go much farther, since the law only affects a handful of waters. The only effective noise-control measure is banning jet skis outright," said report author Charles Komanoff. "There was a time when we could get away from it all but now that's impossible with the noise coming from the water. At a time when people are looking for peace and quiet, this is a simple solution to return the shores to the people," says Les Blomberg, Executive Director of the NPC.

By segregating jet ski noise to only a few "noisy" lakes and waters, a quintessential American experience will be preserved: a day at the beach. According to Blomberg, "A day at the beach is no picnic with the whine of engines on the water." "It's the continual jumping out of the water that makes jet ski noise so much more intrusive than motorboats," states report co-author Dr. Shaw.

The Noise Pollution Clearinghouse is a national non-profit organization working to create more livable cities and more natural rural and wilderness environments by reducing noise pollution at the source. DROWNING IN NOISE and the Federal Register jet ski ban rules are available at the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse Website ( For a hard copy of the report, contact the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse by telephone or email (

For further information from the National Park Service, contact Dennis Burnett at 202-208-4874.

Among the key findings of DROWNING IN NOISE:

  • Jet skis will impose an estimated $908 million of noise costs on beachgoers this year, or $700 per jet ski.
  • Quieting jet skis by 5 decibels will not keep up with the growth in use (an estimated 100,000 more jet skis each year). In five years, national noise costs would be 18% greater, even with quieter machines.
  • "Minimum-distance rules" are only modestly effective in curbing jet ski noise because sound carries all too well across open water. Requiring jet skis to stay at least 500 feet offshore would reduce the noise cost by just 27%, and even a universal quarter-mile limit (1320 feet) would curb noise costs by only 48%. These improvements would be largely wiped out in a few years by growth in use.
  • Jet skis also impose roughly $230 million a year in noise costs on shoreline property owners and $120 million on boaters and other water recreationists.
  • "The only effective noise-control measure is banning jet skis outright," said Komanoff. "Segregating jet skis to a few "noisy" lakes and waters and protecting the remaining is the best method to reducing jet ski noise costs.

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