Lake Minnetonka Back to Normal after Sewage Dump

Updated: 06/05/2014 7:39 AM
Created: 06/04/2014 10:52 PM
By: Tim Sherno

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Hennepin County said Wednesday night that Lake Minnesota has returned to its normal state.

The MCPA issued an advisory Sunday recommending no swimming in Lake Minnetonka; the advisory was issued after an emergency release of untreated rainwater from the city of Mound's sewer system.

On Monday, Hennepin County preformed regularly-scheduled tests of water quality at Minnetonka beaches, and all but two were declared safe by Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, but the MCPA advisory was never lifted.

While some people assumed the county's water quality testing indicated safe swimming conditions lakewide, some local businesses dependent on the lake for customers saw a drop in activity. 

Tommy Drummond, owner of Tommy's Tonka Trolley, said his business lost $1,500 in reservations of kayak rentals because customers were concerned about the safety of the lake.

Dave Verhasselt, Communications Director for the MPCA, says that when the advisory was issued the scope and scale of the Mound release wasn't fully known.

"We took the precautionary step that we thought was the best step to protect public health," he said.

Later when the results of the Hennepin County water quality tests were available, the MPCA didn't rescind the no-swim advisory. Verrhesselt says the agency responded to a potential health risk but is not charged with declaring a lake open for swimming.

"It's really up to Hennepin County to say, 'Is the lake safe?' and again, it's a scale of risk across the lake," Verrhesselt said.

Mound City Manager Kandis Hanson says she heard from other cities on the lake that were worried about the impact of the incident on lake use and local business.

"They're concern is how it's holding up recreation in their area and how people are afraid," Hanson said.  "Some people are not so afraid, others are very afraid."

Check the status of Hennepin County beaches here.

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