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Practice Boater Safety This Independence Day

Fourth of July is the busiest time of the year on Lake Minnetonka. So, it is vitally important that we all practice safety to keep the lake enjoyable for all this Independence Day. Below is a list of reminders that everyone should review and understand, if you are planning a trip to head out on the water this weekend.

1. Know Your Markers Before You Set Sail

Buoys are considered the “road signs” of the water. It is important to remember that buoys are strategically located to balance navigation needs, financial costs, and use of the lake without the markers becoming obstructions. Therefore, lake users are responsible for understanding the regulations, slow/no wake distances, and be aware of potential dangers given the change in seasonal and yearly lake characteristics such as fluctuating water levels. To review the common types of buoys you may come across on the water, please visit our Buoys & Inland Water Markers page for more information.

2. Own Your Wake – For Everyone’s Sake

Wakes present real dangers to lake users and can damage property. Therefore, it is especially important that boaters be aware of their wakes and how it impacts the shorelines, other people, and the lake. Under

Minnesota law, the damage your wake causes is treated the same as damage caused by an actual collision. You may also be held personally liable for injuries or damage due to you wake.

Be aware of you environment and what’s going on around you to prevent injuries or damage to the lake. Observe minimum wakes zones. If your wake is hitting the shoreline, other watercraft, or docks, move farther away or reduce your speed.

3. Review The Top Ten Summer Violations

It is always good to be mindful of the rules and use common sense when boating so everyone can have a safe and enjoyable time on the water. The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol has a list of the most commonly observed boating violations. Please visit our Top 10 Summer Violations post to review them before heading out onto the water.

4. Practice Safety & Avoid Nuisances

Please remember to be courteous. Many residents live on Lake Minnetonka. When you recreate around on or around the Lake, you are having fun near someone’s backyard. That is why it is so important to share the lake safely and responsibly so everyone can enjoy the lake. The following are things to consider when practicing safety and ways to avoid nuisances on the lake.

Safety

  1. Life Jackets. Always have readily accessible and wearable U.S Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) for each passenger on board. Whether your on a boat, paddleboard, or other watercraft, PFD save lives so always make sure to pack them for your trip.
  2. Safety Equipment. Always ensure your boat is equipped with fire extinguishers, horns, marine-grade carbon monoxide detectors (for specific watercraft), and lighting that is in compliance with the State law.
  3. Don’t Drink and Boat. Boating while under the influence of alcohol, or any other controlled or illegal substance, is illegal. This is the same for underage drinking. The Minnesota alcohol concentration level for impaired operation is 0.08. Watercraft owners or operators will be held liable for violations.
  4. Don’t Ride on Gunwales or Decking. It is illegal to ride or sit on, or operate a motorboat while someone is riding or sitting on the gunwale, bow, transom, decking over the bow, side or stern while underway (unless it it equipped with an adequate railing.
  5. Don’t Block Channels & Navigation. No person may interfere or block navigation of watercraft, moor, or otherwise create safety hazards in channels or public passageways. Swimming, jumping from bridges, or overtaking boats in channels is also prohibited.
  6. Avoid Wake Wash. It is a violation to operate a watercraft in a manner that its wash and wake will endanger, harass, or unnecessarily interfere with any person or property.

Nuisances

  1. Public Nuisances. No person may commit or engage in activity that constitutes a public nuisance (e.g. excess noise, inappropriate behavior, indecent behavior, etc).
  2. Littering. Littering on Lake Minnetonka is illegal. Carry out what you carry in. Please be kind and remove any litter you notice.
  3. Plan Ahead For Sanitation. If bathroom facilities are not available on the watercraft, find a location with public facilities. Please visit our Amenities page to see a list.
  4. Equipment Noise. All watercraft motors must have a muffler, underwater exhaust, or other device that suppresses sound of motor levels consistent with the State law.
  5. Noise & Quiet Hours. Please keep the sound down, whether from music, yelling, or other actions. Between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. sound from any device plainly audible at a distance of 150 feet is a violation of LMCD Code.
  6. Lighting. All watercraft must display the proper navigation lights when underway or in use between sunset and sunrise.

5. Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers

Lake Minnetonka currently has identified five aquatic invasive species (AIS) in its waters including Zebra Mussels, Eurasian Watermilfoil, Curly-leaf Pondweed, Flowering Rush, and Purple Loosestrife. Help keep other AIS out of the lake by following Minnesota’s “Clean, Drain, and Dispose” laws.

  1. Clean watercraft and trailers of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species
  2. Drain all water by removing drain and keeping them out during transport
  3. Dispose of unwanted bait and in the trash

Finally, please respect the lake and rights of others so everyone can enjoy their time on the water – keep the noise down, be courteous to other boaters, and show consideration to all recreationalists on and around the water. We wish everyone a fun and safe holiday weekend!