Lake Enforcement

Lake Enforcement Unit

The Lake Enforcement Unit was developed in the early 1980s in response to the rapid development and increasing recreational use of Lake Norman, Lake Wylie and Mountain Island Lake. These man-made lakes are part of the Catawba Chain of Lakes developed in 1904 by Duke Energy for the purpose of producing power for the Charlotte metropolitan area and the surrounding counties. The Lake Enforcement Units actively patrol these waters for safety and regulatory violations as well as responding to calls for service from the citizens.

The Lake Enforcement Unit of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is a year-round, full-time unit. Officers are responsible for boater safety education, enforcement of boating navigational laws, boater regulatory requirements, federal laws pertaining to inland waters, general statutes and local ordinances.

boat on the lakeThe primary patrol vessels utilized are the custom-built enclosed cabin 27 ft SAFE boats equipped with the latest communication and navigational equipment for year-round emergency response in any weather condition. The unit also operates 21ft center console boats that can be easily trailered and deployed on any of the lakes as needed.

Every officer on the unit is EMT certified in order to provide an advanced level of care when medical emergencies arise on the water. Each patrol vessel is equipped with a defibrillator, emergency medical supplies and equipment to ensure prompt medical treatment is provided on the lake.

Officers assigned to the Lake Enforcement Unit participate in the yearly Nuclear Regulatory Commission training and testing for lake evacuation in the event of a nuclear emergency. Charlotte-Mecklenburg is designated the lead agency in the Nuclear Emergency Contingency Plan.

Lake Information

Lake Norman:
Lake Norman has over 520 miles of shoreline covering 32,510 acres. Lake Norman is positioned in Mecklenburg, Iredell, Lincoln, and Catawba counties with each of the jurisdictions having enforcement authority over the entire lake. Within Mecklenburg County there are 90 miles of shoreline covering 10,350 acres.

Mountain Island Lake:
Mountain Island Lake is the smallest of the three lakes in Mecklenburg County covering 3,235 acres and having 61 miles of shoreline. This lake is bordered by Mecklenburg, Gaston, and Lincoln Counties. Within Mecklenburg County, there are approximately 1,790 acres of water and 31 miles of shoreline.

Mountain Island is a narrow lake with numerous wildlife habitats within its borders. Latta Plantation Park area, The Wildlife Refuge area, and the Carolina Raptor Center are located near Mountain Island Lake.

Lake Wylie:
Lake Wylie is the oldest of the three lakes in Mecklenburg County covering 13,443 acres of surface area and 325 miles of shoreline. Lake Wylie is positioned in Mecklenburg and Gaston Counties in North Carolina and in York County, South Carolina with each of the jurisdictions have enforcement authority over the entire lake. Lake Wylie supports the hydroelectric plant at the dam, Allen Steam Station, and Catawba Nuclear Station. This lake was first created in 1904 and is named after Dr. W. Gil Wylie who organized Catawba Power Company which eventually became known as Duke Energy.

Seasonal Tips

Be prepared - a good boating tip

When the boating season is finally upon us, many boat owners begin preparing their boat for the water. They conduct the annual ritual of de-winterizing, cleaning, and checking their safety equipment, and making sure everything onboard is in good working order.

On the other hand, many will pull off the cover or tarp, grab the jumper cables, start the boat and off they go! They're positive everything was left on the boat from last season that will be necessary for a day on the lake--and this is the group that will keep law enforcement and the towing services very busy.

Everyone should prepare their boat prior to arriving at the launch ramp. To assist you in making your day on the lake safe and enjoyable, the following is a list of what is required by law to have on board your vessel. In addition, we will recommend other equipment that is not mandatory but is a good idea to have on hand.

Every vessel operating on the waters of this state shall have the following:
  • A certificate of numbers on board and in full force and effect.
  • Registration numbers displayed on both sides of the vessel, on the front portion of the bow, in three-inch solid block letters of contrasting color to the hull with the validation sticker following the registration on the starboard (right) side and spaced as follows: NC 1234 AB or NC-1234-AB.
  • The proper type and size USCG approved personal flotation device (PFD) for each person onboard in good condition and readily accessible.
  • All children under the age of 13 aboard a vessel that is underway, must wear a USCG approved PFD, unless below deck or in an enclosed cabin.
  • A USCG approved type IV PFD throwable cushion or ring buoy for boats over 16 feet in length
  • The following lights for night operation: Red to port, green to starboard, 360-degree white all around light, or 135-degree stern light and 225-degree masthead light. Sailboats under sail alone shall exhibit the combined lantern (red to port, green to starboard) and 135-degree stern light, but no 225-degree masthead light.
  • Gas powered boats with closed construction require fire extinguishers (size and number vary according to length of boat), ventilation systems, and flame arrestors.
  • Whistle or horn or sound producing device.

Recommended equipment:
  • VHF radio
  • Paddle
  • Anchor
  • Depth gauge
  • Lake Chart (Lake Map)

Recommended supplies:
  • Cell Phone
  • Water
  • First Aid Kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses

The Lakes Enforcement Division would like to share Lake Related information with the boating public. Please download and keep with you the attached brochure. [ English version(PDF, 245KB) | Spanish version(PDF, 280KB)]