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Hernando County residents living along the Mud River say boaters are causing trouble

Scene along the Weeki Wachee River
Carl Lisciandrello
WUSF Public Media
The Weeki Wachee River is a popular destination for boaters and kayakers.

One resident said boaters heading to the Weeki Wachee River "have no experience on the water and no formal training."

A group of Hernando County residents living along the Mud River wants better regulation of boat rental businesses there and their customers. They made their case to the board of county commissioners at a public meeting earlier this month.

They argued the river has become a popular way to get to the Weeki Wachee River, which also has its share of boating issues.

Lucas Johns lives on Felker Drive and told commissioners the companies along Cortez Boulevard are renting all types of boats and not properly educating customers.

“These boaters have no experience on the water and no formal training,” he told the commission on June 13. “I have personally experienced property damage. My daughter was hit while swimming in the river. They do not have any understanding of maritime laws.”

Johns’ neighbor, Lynne Herrick, said she has witnessed lewd behavior by boaters going by her house. She asked commissioners to provide better enforcement on the Mud River.

“Everyone is racing. There’s no consideration for the no wake zone and you all know what that does to your seawalls that are very expensive,” she said. “Something needs to be done.”

Aaron Pool, director of Hernando County Development Services, said his staff has already been in contact with the businesses.

“We are looking at the land use side of it, so we cannot prohibit them from (renting boats),” Pool said, “but we can let them know what they’re allowed to do by the county regulations for the zoning district that they’re in and then we can guide them to compliance.”

Pool said the companies along Cortez Boulevard that are renting boats are on commercially zoned property. He said the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is also in contact with the owners about boating regulations they must follow.