Skip to main content

After July 4th sickness outbreak, tighter rules for boat toilets on Lake Minnetonka

Almost 200 people fell sick after partying on the lake for Fourth of July.

The sickness outbreak that followed a gathering on Lake Minnetonka this past Fourth of July has led to tighter rules regarding marine toilets on the lake.

The Lake Minnetonka Conservation District (LCMD) announced Monday it has adopted an ordinance "to reinforce and clarify existing regulations banning sewage discharge in Lake Minnetonka."

It comes after a gathering on Big Island over the holiday weekend this past summer led to more than 170 people being sickened, and while the exact cause of the outbreak was undetermined, Hennepin County health officials did say that one of the possibilities was fecal matter having found its way into the water.

Under the rules adopted by LCMD, it seeks to eliminate the possibility of wastewater entering the lake from boats by expanding what it defines as "sewage" to include "mobile sources."

This will require marine toilet pumps to be removed from boats and discharge valves (also known as "Y valves") to be locked.

"While the discharge of sewage in the lake was already prohibited by LMCD and state and federal regulations, this new ordinance makes it clearer and takes an additional step to protect the lake and all those who enjoy it," said Lt. Shane Magnuson, of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol unit.

Sign up: Subscribe to our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

"We have been researching options to reduce the risk of outbreaks, and this was one suggestion brought to us for consideration,” said LMCD Board Chair Gregg Thomas in a press release. 

"Some boats have the capability of accidentally or intentionally pumping raw sewage into Lake Minnetonka and that is not in the best interest of public health."

The ordinance will be monitored and enforced by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office Water Patrol unit, which will hand out petty misdemeanor citations to any lake user who launches into the lake with a marine toilet that doesn't follow the ordinance.

Meanwhile, businesses that rent boats with marine toilets, or offer sewage pumping and recovery services, will have to report to the conservation district if they become aware that a non-compliant boat is being used on the lake.

Next Up

northbound remodel facebook

Northbound brewpub reopens with new look, revamped menu

It had been closed since October for the big remodel.

Snow, Hanley Falls

Latest storm track, snow forecast for weekend winter storm

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch.

gianni's wayzata heated patio

These Twin Cities restaurants have heated patios for outdoor winter dining

From bonfires to igloos, Twin Cities restaurants have you covered as temperatures drop.

Kirill Kaprizov

Kirill Kaprizov's slow start is a thing of the past

A potential sophomore slump has been erased with a three-point night against the Devils..

mpd aldi incident screengrab

Video shows MPD officer grab, throw Aldi customer

The department says the matter was referred to the Office of Police Conduct Review.

US Sec Defense Flickr - Joe Bide Nov 11 2021

Biden lays out wintertime plan to curb COVID's spread

It comes as the U.S. reported its second case of the omicron variant.

Willow River DOC

MN Dept. of Corrections offering $5K bonuses as it seeks to hire 200

The DOC is offering hiring bonuses for new employees and for referrals.


lake minnetonka

172 now sickened in Lake Minnetonka illness outbreak

Health officials provided an update on Friday afternoon.

Fourth of July illness outbreak may be linked to Lake Minnetonka

Health officials want to hear from anyone who has vomiting and diarrhea.

Lake Minnetonka outbreak grows, with 116 now sick

Health officials continue to probe the cause of the illnesses.

Screen Shot 2020-04-30 at 8.52.19 PM

Watch: Boat destroyed by fire on Lake Minnetonka

The blaze erupted on the vessel Thursday evening.

Screen Shot 2020-08-17 at 8.53.28 AM

Boat goes up in flames on Lake Minnetonka

The occupants were able to escape to safety.

lake minnetonka

More than 30 sick in outbreak linked to Lake Minnetonka party spot

Health officials updated the situation on Tuesday.