The Austin Police Department Lake Patrol Unit patrols the three public lakes in the City of Austin; Walter E. Long, Lady Bird, and Lake Austin. The Lake Patrol Unit fulfills two principle functions; safety through deterrence and law enforcement, as well as public education directed toward recreational or commercial activities.  The Lake Patrol Unit is the principal law enforcement entity on the City of Austin waterways and a cooperating agency with organizations with concurrent jurisdiction.

Along with state law for all waterways in Texas, there are several ordinances the City of Austin has implemented, such as illegal bridge jumping, designated swimming areas, personal watercraft bans on certain holidays, music levels from your boat, etc. For all questions regarding city ordinances, please use the following link: City of Austin Ordinances

The waters of Texas are regulated by Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Required Equipment

While boating, there are five pieces of safety equipment required to be on a vessel at all times:

  1. Certificate of Number that is issued by Texas Parks and Wildlife upon registering your boat
  2. A lifejacket for every person onboard the vessel that is readily accessible, and properly fitting.  Children under the age of thirteen are required to wear a lifejacket at all times while on a vessel.  Anyone riding on a personal watercraft (PWC) must wear a lifejacket at all times.
  3. A Type 4 personal flotation device must be present onboard all vessels that is readily accessible
  4. A sound producing device must be in working condition, such as a boat horn, air horn, or whistle
  5. A fire extinguisher that is fully charged

Helpful Information

  • It is a violation of PWD 31.098 hazardous wake or wash when a Police vessel has activated its emergency lights and there is a failure to yield until the intention of the Police vessel is determined, or failure to slow to a NO WAKE speed when the Police vessel is conducting a boat stop
  • The waterways within the jurisdiction of the City of Austin are marked with numerous type of buoys indicating a prohibited action. NO WAKE, HAZARD, BOATS KEEP OUT, DANGER
  • It is a violation of City Ordinance 8-5-2 Wake in NO WAKE to create a wake in a zone marked NO WAKE by buoys or other official markers
  • A child under the age of 13 must wear a PFD at all times onboard a vessel while underway, unless the vessel is over 26 feet in length
  • PFD required while onboard a personal water craft
  • Vessel registration must be up to date. If vessel is from out of state, the registration must be in full force to operate on the waters of this state
  • Fishing is allowed on Lady Bird Lake from 0500-2200 hrs. Park curfew City Ordinance rules apply
  • No use of gas powered motors are allowed on Lady Bird Lake, only trolling motors are permitted
  • Decker Lake is open from 0500-2200 hrs. Park curfew City Ordinance rules apply
  • Lake Austin has no curfew
  • A PFD needs to be readily accessible while on a paddleboard, kayak, or canoe
  • It is a violation of Austin City Ordinance 8-5-44 to jump from any bridge
  • It is a violation of Austin City Ordinance 8-5-48 to swim in Lady Bird Lake
  • All of Bee Creek and Bull Creek are NO WAKE zones
  • Glass bottles are not permitted on any area Lakes

Additional Information

If you were born on or after September 1, 1993, you must complete a Boater Education Course to operate a PWC or a boat with a horsepower rating of more than 15 hp. If you receive a citation contact the Municipal Court to verify if you are eligible for boater education course in lieu of fine. See Boater Education requirements at

Boat while intoxicated; Effective 9/1/2001, a person's driver’s license will be automatically suspended if the arrested person:

  • Is operating a watercraft powered with an engine having a manufacturer's rating of 50 horsepower or above; and
  • The person refuses to provide a specimen (breath or blood) to determine intoxication

To report a boating accident, call 911. You may also report an accident contact your local game warden, or call TPWD 24 hour police communications operator at (512) 389-4848.

For additional information please see the Texas Water Safety Act.