All 23 square miles of Lake Minnetonka declared 'no-wake' zone

All 23 square miles of Lake Minnetonka declared 'no-wake' zone

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LAKE MINNETONKA, Minn. (KMSP) - There's yet another warning for anyone who hopes to launch a boat and head out on Lake Minnetonka this weekend: You can go, but you'll have to take it really, really slow. 

By this time of year, many aquatic enthusiasts flock to tube, ski and wakeboard -- but there won't be any wakes for at least a few weeks due to the record high lake levels. That's because the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District has declared a no-wake zone on Lake Minnetonka -- the entire lake -- on Thursday.

"It's Mother Nature throwing us for another loop here," lamented Dan Malone. "I mean, after a long winter, everyone is itching to get out on the water and use their new boats and their new toys."

It is unlawful for anyone to operate a watercraft on the entire lake at a speed that results in more than a minimum wake, which is defined as "the wake moving out from a watercraft and trailing behind in a widening V is of insufficient size to affect other watercraft or to be detrimental to the shoreline."

"The amount of damage that's taking place to people's property -- docks are getting damaged. Docks are floating around, which cause public safety problems. Shoreline erosions are taking place even at those properties that have adequately protected it," Greg Nybeck, of LMCD, explained.

Typically, that means most watercraft can do little more than idle. The lake is still open for business, but the recreational boat use is basically shut down because most boats create a wake if speeds exceed 5 miles per hour.

"The levels are so high, you can't move," Kevin Cooper said. "It's a no-wake zone, but places are flooded. Yards have water that I've never seen before. It's just amazing."

The lake is up about 18 inches this year, and the restrictions will remain in effect until the level remains below 930.30 feet for three consecutive days -- a drop of at least 8 inches. 

"If we get dry weather that was warm with wind, it could probably be off in a couple of weeks," Nybeck estimated. 

Hennepin County Water Patrol will be out on the lake in the coming days, but officials say their mission is one of education, not citation.

The LMCD relies on the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) readings, and they recorded 930.65 feet on Thursday. LMCD staff will continue to monitor the levels, and post each reading at www.minnehahacreek.org.

Flooding is mitigated via the MCWD's operation of the Grays Bay Dam in Wayzata, Minn.

STEARNS COUNTY, TOO

The Stearns County Sheriff's Department is placing no wake signs near the Chain of Lakes and Sauk River area around Cold Spring and Richmond, as well as Two Rivers Lake in St. Anna. Water patrol officers will be out on area lakes over the weekend reminding boaters to follow the recommendations.

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