WAYZATA — Lake Minnetonka’s no wake restrictions have been blatantly ignored by some, according to Lt. Shane Magnuson of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office Water Patrol, leading law enforcement to stop many boats this past weekend and start giving out fines.
During a May 31 news conference, Capt. Steve Labatt said Water Patrol would primarily give people warnings and then would fine repeat offenders.
Magnuson said the sheriff's office does not know when the no wake restrictions will be dropped, but did tell Lakeshore Weekly News on Monday, June 3, that the water level on the lake has dropped about an inch since the lake's highest level.
Lake Minnetonka Conservation District Executive Director Vickie Schleuning told Lakeshore Weekly News on June 4 that with good weather the restrictions could be dropped in five or more days, but that there are no guarantees.
The expanded no wake restrictions will end when the water level falls to 930 feet or below and stays that way for three consecutive days.
High water declaration
A high water declaration went into effect at 1 p.m. on Friday, May 31, prompting an expanded no wake zone across portions of Lake Minnetonka.
The expanded no wake zone does not cover the entire lake but includes within 600 feet of the shore and specific bays, the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District (LMCD) said. Those bays are:
- Big Island Passage
- Black Lake
- Carsons Bay
- Coffee Cove
- Emerald Lake
- Excelsior Bay
- Forest Lake
- Grays Bay
- Jennings Bay
- Libbs Lake
- Priests Bay
- Robinsons Bay
- St. Albans Bay
- St. Louis Bay
- Seton Lake
- Stubbs Bay
- Tanager Lake
"Reducing boat speeds to 5 mph will help minimize erosion of shorelines, damage to structures, and protect the public from possible accidents," the LMCD said in a May 30 Facebook post.
Updates about high water restrictions will be posted to the LMCD's website, Schleuning said during a May 31 news conference, including when the restrictions will be cleared. She explained that LMCD is monitoring the water levels with help from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, which measures water levels daily.
Schleuning emphasized lake users can still have a fun summer and that the restrictions are about protecting boaters, sewer lines, docks and the shoreline.
Excessive rainfall is to blame
In a tweet on May 28, the National Weather Service in Chanhassen said the Twin Cities have picked up 15.61 inches of precipitation between Jan. 1 and May 27, which is the third most on record (record keeping began in 1871).
Lake Minnetonka is flowing over the emergency spillway at the Minnehaha Creek headwaters, where the lake is about 2 inches higher than the spillway elevation, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District said in a news release last week. When this happens, Gray’s Bay Dam cannot control discharge from Lake Minnetonka into Minnehaha Creek.