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Clean, Drain, and Dispose to Protect Minnesota Waters

Clean, Drain, and Dispose to Protect Minnesota Waters

August 07, 2023 by

With roughly 11,842 lakes in the state, it’s no wonder Minnesotans spend a lot of their summer free time out on the water. Because of this, individuals have easily and unknowingly spread aquatic invasive species (AIS) when moving their boats and other water-related equipment around to different waterbodies, leading to eight percent of Minnesota’s water becoming impaired with aquatic invasive species. And once impaired, the removal of the entire AIS population is both unlikely and expensive. Thus, to prevent that percentage from rising and keep the rest of our lakes healthy, three protective actions have been made to prevent AIS from interfering with the existing aquatic ecosystem and our lake traditions and recreational fun.

The three simple steps can be completed independently or by a watercraft inspector stationed at the lake access you’ve chosen. Overall, the process takes roughly five to ten minutes and consists of a thorough walk around your equipment and trailer prior to leaving the access site. To remember the three steps, just remember: Clean, Drain, Dispose.

Clean all visible zebra mussels and aquatic plant species, whether native, invasive, dead, or alive, from your watercraft, trailer, or any other water-related equipment before leaving a water access or shoreline.

Drain all water. This includes the boat, its ballast tank, bilge, live-well, baitwell, and all portable bait containers. Minnesota law states you may not transport a watercraft without first removing the drain plug, as unseen zebra mussel veligers, plant fragments, and seeds may be residing within the water and can produce new populations if brought into another water body.

Dispose of all unwanted bait such as minnows, leeches, and worms into the trash. It is against the law to release bait into a waterbody. If you’d like to keep your bait, remember to keep some extra water in your vehicle to place the bait into.  

Clean all visible aquatic plants off the boat and trailer.

Drain all water from the boat. Prevent AIS by correctly disposing of unused bait. Spray and rinse all water related equipment with very hot water after each use.

To go above and beyond these three simple tasks, spray and rinse all water-related equipment with extremely hot water after each use before allowing them to dry for at least five days. If you do not have that capability, check out this link to find a decon station near you to complete a courtesy decontamination: Courtesy Decontamination | Minnesota DNR (state.mn.us). You could also demonstrate your commitment to protecting Minnesota waters from aquatic invasive species by taking the pledge on the Minnesota DNR’s website: Pledge to Protect Minnesota Waters | Minnesota DNR (state.mn.us).

Lakes, rivers, and wetlands are precious to Minnesota’s identity and quality of life for both humans and wildlife. If left unprotected, AIS can change how residents and visitors use this resource by harming native plants, fish, and wildlife by outcompeting them for food and habitat. Moreover, learn and practice the Clean, Drain, Dispose preventive measures to implement before leaving a water access or shoreline, and know you are protecting Minnesota waters for future generations. To learn more, please call our office or visit the DNR’s website: Aquatic Invasive Species | Minnesota DNR (state.mn.us).

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