We want everyone to be safe and healthy while enjoying the lake, which is why certain regulations and measures are in place. Gatherings, whether on land or water, carry a higher risk of exposure to illnesses. There are several ways that illnesses can be transmitted such as through person-to-person, food, water, and animals. The good news is that you can take measures to minimize the risk of illness and keep the lake healthy for others.
Marine Toilets & Sewage Discharge
The LMCD passed a stricter ordinance regarding marine toilets on Lake Minnetonka in response to the July 4, 2019 illness outbreak. While the discharge of sewage was already prohibited by LMCD and state and federal regulations, the new ordinance makes it clearer and takes an additional step to protect the lake and all those who enjoy it. It requires marine toilet macerater/grinder pumps to be removed from watercrafts and the discharge valves (“Y valves”) to be locked to prevent accidental or intentional discharge of sewage into Lake Minnetonka. View Details.
Beaches are sometimes closed due to higher than recommended levels of E coli, an indicator used to determine whether the lake’s water quality is suitable for swimming. It is not uncommon to have the beaches closed periodically through the summer. Hennepin County Environmental Health samples and recommends closures of beaches when high levels of indicator organisms are found. Hennepin County has created a map showing beach closures throughout the County.
Even if a beach is not closed, the CDC recommends waiting at least 24 hours after a heavy rainfall due to possible contaminants in runoff from land. More beach safety tips are provided below.
Tips for Staying Healthy on the Lake
Bacteria, viruses, and other organisms in the water can cause some ear and eye infections, stomach aches, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms. MDH, Hennepin County, and CDC offer some tips that everyone can take to minimize the risk of illness while enjoying the water and to keep the lake healthy for everyone.
Minimize the risk of illness while on the lake.
- Don’t swallow the water
- Shower after swimming
- Avoid swimming after a rain event
- Avoid swimming near discharge pipes
- Avoid swimming if you see a blue-green algal bloom
- Wash your hands before eating
Help keep the lake healthy for everyone.
- Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea
- Shower before swimming
- Don’t go to the bathroom in the water
- Take frequent bathroom breaks
- Change diapers frequently and away from the water
- Dispose of trash, animal waste, raw meat juices, and boat waste properly
Thank you for doing your part to keep our lake clean and healthy for everyone.
This information is also available on the Tips for Staying Healthy on the Lake Handout.