How to minimize dock, boat, and other vehicle impacts on water quality
Many activities at lake homes and cabins occur along the shoreline, which is a very sensitive area. Here are ways to protect your shoreland and the water quality of lakes.
Docks, decks, and accesses
- Using a public access instead of building a private dock will help minimize waterfront disturbance.
- If you install a dock, follow Minnesota Department of Natural Resources guidelines as well as local shoreland ordinances for setback requirements.
- Replace a straight path to the waterfront with an ‘S’ shape curved path to slow water runoff.
- Use metal, recycled plastic, or naturally resistant wood (such as cedar, tamarack, or redwood) instead of chemically treated wood.
- Construct the smallest possible dock to meet your needs. Allow free flow of water beneath it to prevent erosion and sedimentation along the shore.
- Minimize the amount of ground surface covered with impervious decks and patios to minimize runoff and erosion.
- Never apply wood preservatives or paint to decks or docks while they are in or over the water.
Boating and fishing
- Never spill gas or oil in or near the water; always fuel the boat when it’s on the trailer and away from the water.
- Install fuel storage tanks as far away as possible from the waterfront.
- Inspect boats and trailers and equipment for aquatic invasive species to avoid moving these unwanted “hitchhikers” from one body of water to another (see the information card, “How Do I Prevent and Control Aquatic Invasive Species?”).
- Properly store and dispose of all wastewater, both grey water from sinks and human waste, especially when ice fishing or when on houseboats.
- Fish responsibly; bury fish guts and parts on land well away from water. It’s illegal to deposit fish guts or parts into waters or on shores.
- Do not disturb aquatic plant beds.
- When approaching shore or boating in shallow parts of the lake, travel at low speed and produce no wake so that you minimize wave erosion to the shoreline and prevent stirring up lake sediments.
Off-road vehicles: snowmobiles, mountain bikes, and cars for ice fishing
- Stay on well-maintained trails.
- Construct crossings over streams and wetlands according to regulations.
- When entering or leaving an ice-covered water body, avoid bluffs and steep banks.
- Stay off thin ice. It’s potentially fatal to riders, plus when motorized vehicles break through, petroleum products and battery acid can contaminate water.
- Use appropriate surfaced trails and roads during spring melt and after a major rain event, when the ground is very susceptible to rutting and erosion. Observe time periods designed to regulate off-road recreation during the muddy season.