Local News

Jet Skis Adding to Pollution

Posted July 25, 1998

— It may sound like something from Ripley's Believe It or Not, but a conventional jet ski kicks out more pollution in two hours than a late model car does in 130,000 miles.

There are pollution restrictions on businesses, cars and trucks but there are no similar restrictions on boats or jet skis.

Zipping across Jordan Lake on a jet ski looks like good, clean fun. But environmental groups say riding a jet ski is one of the single most damaging acts to the water and to the air.

"The amount of pollution coming from these engines is simply staggering," says Russell Long of the Blue Water Network. "Nobody even knew this until the Environmental Protection Agency recently took a look at them and they found out that, yes, these are one of the largest sources of toxic water pollution in the United States."

The jet ski's two-cycle engine allows some unburned fuel to pass right into the water and right into the air. Environmentalists want to take action; dealers say the industry is taking care of it.

"One thing Kawasaki started doing last year was they put an exhaust flap over the rear of the unit here. What this does is lower the emissions coming out of the ski. The main reason they put this on also was noise," says Dwayne Byrd of Kawasaki-Suzuki of Durham. Byrd says there are also cleaner carburetors due for 1998.

Byrd says manufacturers know they have to respond to environmental concerns, due to the size of the watercraft market. Byrd says he welcomes the changes.

And the news is not all bad. One possible solution: four-stroke engines, which burn a lot cleaner than the current two-stroke engines.


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