Updated: Jul 11, 2019
I've been thinking about cleaning out my pond for a while. Can I legally do it?
The short answer is - Yes. We get this one all the time at the trade shows. Lots of people think that they need to be sneaky when they clear out their pond, but in most cases you have every right to do it as long as you do it manually with a cutting tool instead of something bad for the pond life like chemical herbicides.
What kinds of weeds should I be getting rid of?
At least 15 species of plants are so bad they're classified as "Prohibited" in Minnesota because they're harmful to the environment and people. There are a handful that are restricted as well. Most of them kill other native species and get in the way of swimming, boating, and fishing. Some are worse. They have been found clogging waterways and can cause flooding. A few can wipe out fish populations if left alone, and a couple can even be a fire risk in the summer.
Most of them will even survive freezing in the winter and grow back year after year. It's best to take care of them early and often. If you're starting to show signs of them appearing it's time to take action.
Here's a list of the ones we found listed on the various government websites in the Great Lakes region. Aquatic Plants
African Oxygen Weed (Lagarosiphon major)
Aquarium Watermoss or giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta)
Australian Stone Crop (Crassula helmsii)
Brazilian Elodea (Egeria Densa)
Brittle Naiad (Najas minor)*
Curly-leaf Pondweed (Potamogeton crispus)
Eurasian Watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)
European Frog-bit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae)
Flowering Rush (Butomus umbellatus)*
Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata)
Indian Swampweed (Hygrophila polysperma)
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria, Lythrum virgatum, or any variety, hybrid, or cultivar thereof)*
Starry Stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa)
Water Aloe or Water Soldiers (Stratiotes aloides)
Water Chestnut (Trapa natans)
The aquatic plants listed in Code of Federal Regulations, title 7, section 360.200, are also designated as prohibited invasive species except for Chinese water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica)
Wow, that's a lot of bad plants! What are the laws around removing them?
We encounter people with misconceptions of questions about the law out at trade shows all the time, so we sifted through the various laws and departments to make it easier for you. Laws can change and we’ll update these guides as quickly as possible. As always, you should contact your local office of the Department of Environmental Quality or Department of Natural Resources for advice on your exact situation.
Note: AquaticWeedTools is not a law firm. As such, AquaticWeedTools does not provide legal advice. The material in this guide does not constitute legal advice nor does contributing to the guide or communicating with AquaticWeedTools or other contributors about the guide create an attorney-client relationship.
Minnesota lets you do a lot to improve your pond or lake. You don’t need a permit for clearing less than 50 feet along a shore or half your shoreline whichever is smaller, or 2500 square feet of an area. (This is if you do it yourself.) Hiring someone probably requires a permit. Clearing an area larger than that does as well. Also it's important to know if you are clearing plants like Cattails with roots in the lake bed that are emerging from the surface of the water or using chemicals in any way you need permits.
If you get a weed removal tool like this Dock Weed Knife, you can start once you receive it if you’re careful to remove the cuttings and the area is in the above dimensions.
We recommend using tools and a little elbow grease because chemical treatments require permits for even small areas, and disobeying the law has heavy penalties if your neighbors report you. (It’s a misdemeanor!) If you like being able to do what you want with your land without a lot of red tape, tools are the way to go.
The bottom line:
Cleaning your lake or pond with a tool is not only legal but it’s definitely less expensive than just getting permits from the state. It’s clearly better and safer to just get an aquatic weed rake and do it yourself.
What should I use to get rid of them?
The Aquatic Weed Rake from Prime Waters Manufacturing is designed to clear pesky weeds out with minimal effort, and safe enough to be used by any contractor or anyone in the family.
For Minnesota weeds, we recommend using the Dock Weed Rake and Dock Weed Knife, and the Surf/Sand Rake to remove them once you're done cutting them down. Simply dispose of them like you would yard debris, compost them or there are companies you can hire to haul them away.
Having a clear pond all summer has never been so easy and safe for your family. If you have any questions at all, reach out to us. Our experts are ready to help!
Sources and Relevant Links