LAW & PUBLIC SAFETYPublic SafetyBoat and Water   

Boat & Water Safety

Safety on the Water


 Swim Raft     Water Event

Buoy or Swim Raft Permit

   Water Event Permit

The Boat and Water Safety Division is responsible for the promotion and enforcement of watercraft safety regulations, marking navigational hazards and ensuring the safe condition of rental watercraft.

Their role is to: Whaler

• Enhance safety on the waterways of St. Louis County
• Respond to water emergencies
• Abide by Minnesota Statute 86B1.5
• Promote boat and water safety and enforcement
• Buoy designated waterways
• Train and equip personnel for water search and rescue

The Boat and Water Safety Division has two purposes: buoying and boat and water enforcement, including training and accident response.

  • Buoying:  St. Louis County hires a private contractor for buoying services on Lake Vermillion, Burntside Lake, and Shagawa for hazard/channel markings to improve watercraft navigation and safety.  Currently 290 buoys are placed in these designated lakes as a service to area boaters.  Learn more about Buoy permits....


  • Boat & Water Enforcement, Training and Accident Response:  The St. Louis County Sheriff, under MN Rules Chapter 86B.105, is the primary law enforcement agency responsible for search, rescue, patrol and inspection of watercraft on the lakes, streams and rivers in St. Louis County.  Deputies and Rescue Squad personnel participate in search and recovery of drowning victims.  Deputies participate in watercraft enforcement patrols throughout the county on grant-paid overtime projects. 


  • Water Related Accidents: If someone has a water related accident or drowns, it must be reported to the Sheriff.  This is covered by MN Rules Chapter 86B.105 and 6110.1900.


  • Lifejackets: Every person on board a watercraft or duck boat shall wear or have readily accessible a U.S. Coast Guard approved Type I, II, or III personal flotation device.  This is covered by Chapter 6110.1200 Sub. 3.

  • Swimming Areas: The owner or lessee of shoreline property may define a swimming area adjacent to the property for personal use.  This is covered by Chapter 6110.1600.  Learn more about Swim Raft permits...

  • Water Events: A permit is needed whenever an event occurs on, in or upon the water. This would include events such as ice fishing contests, snowmobile races on the ice, summer fishing contests, triathlon races, etc. Learn more about Water Event permits...

  • How Much Do Water Permits Cost: Water Event and Buoy/Swim Raft permits are $26 per permit.  Please make checks payable to St. Louis County Sheriff's Office. Please click here for our Fee Schedule.


Air Boat Pontoon Boat Patrol Boat

Patrol Boat

Patrol BoatIn October 2010 the Sheriff's Office christened a $98,000 search and rescue boat.  This boat will be used to patrol Lake Superior, the Twin Ports harbor, and inland lakes.  The 23-foot boat was purchased in 2009 from Lake Assault.

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