Keeping Lake Minnetonka swimmable

Written for Great River Greening e-news July, 2019

Lake Minnetonka, located just west of the Twin Cities, is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The ninth largest lake in Minnesota hosts a million visitors annually. Unfortunately, one of the few public beaches on the lake, Commons Park Beach, is frequently closed due to high levels of e-coli. This is problematic not only for beachgoers, but also for local businesses that rely on the busy area for important revenue.

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The problem? Canada geese that forage and nest nearby; their droppings contaminate the shoreline during heavy rains and create unsafe swimming conditions.

To remedy the problem, Great River Greening is working with the City of Excelsior to directly improve water quality in Lake Minnetonka, in a three-year comprehensive approach that includes restoring the beach shoreline.

Natural Approach to Filtering Lake Minnetonka

Revegetating the Lake Minnetonka shoreline with tall, native grasses will prevent geese from accessing the water and beach area. It also provides a natural buffer against sediment runoff into Lake Minnetonka resulting in cleaner water and a reduced risk of frequent beach closures.

GRG Ecologist and Operations Director Todd Rexine said there are many environmental and recreational benefits to this project:

“Lake Minnetonka is a household name in Minnesota; it’s a lively and beautiful destination for thousands of visitors across our state. We’re working to improve the quality of the water and the beach to ensure visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience. ”

Great River Greening’s work at Lake Minnetonka generously funded by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, The Outdoor Heritage Fund, RBC Blue Water Project, and Patagonia