Locals want to crack down on litterbugs who are trashing Lake Minnetonka

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The hundreds of people who hang out on Lake Minnetonka each summer weekend, boating and partying, are attracting more negative attention from local officials.

Not only are emergency responders concerned about the dangers of the alcohol-infused party scene, others are also fed up with all the garbage the boaters leave behind.

So fed up, in fact, that the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District will discuss ways to crack down on litterbugs at its meeting Wednesday evening.

It was just two weeks ago that the district, which regulates use of the lake, called a special meeting to review public safety issues that have occurred during the boating season, especially over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The Twin Cities' most popular lake, Minnetonka is a go-to destination for many boaters on weekends during the summer, as hundreds of boats flock to Big Island and Cruiser’s Cove – creating a floating party scene that resembles a tailgate for a football game.

Many of those people are slobs, apparently. They throw empty cans, bottles and other trash into the water. They use the lake to take potty breaks. They often leave behind cellphones and sometimes shoes or even underwear.

Nobody is officially responsible for cleaning up the mess, so lake residents and volunteers have been hauling out trash nearly every weekend during the summer. A group of businesses and homeowners, the Lake Minnetonka Association, is taking the lead on it.

After the busy July 4 weekend, those volunteers filled a barge with nearly 1,000 pounds of garbage, according to the Star Tribune.

Right now, a person can be ticketed for littering by a Hennepin County Water Patrol officer, but the officer needs to witness the person in the act, or the person needs to admit to it, FOX 9 reports. In reality, very few people are ever cited for littering, officials say.

Residents say that's not enough to discourage people from littering in the lake, so at its Wednesday meeting, the Conservation District will discuss the possibility of establishing harsher penalties for the offense or boosting enforcement, according to FOX 9.

The social scene on Lake Minnetonka has been around for many years, but it's just been in the last couple of years that it's been attracting more media scrutiny.

And the Lake Minnetonka Association is pleased to see the attention. A recent post on its Facebook page said, "Our clean up efforts are getting noticed. We hope this push in the media will make people think twice about dropping their garbage in our lake. Until then, we will keep cleaning!"

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