Beaches and Recreational Waters in Minnesota

photo of Lake Nokomis beachThe Minnesota Department of Health provides information and guidance about how to identify potential dangers of public beaches. In addition, we provide guidance to local authorities on when and how to close public waters.

Minnesotans use beaches for wading, swimming, sunbathing, sailing, boating, kayaking, and sail-boarding. Waters should be safe for recreational use. Waters used for recreational activities involving body contact should be substantially free from pathogens, including bacteria, parasites, and viruses, that may harm human health. Although all natural bodies of water contain microorganisms, exposure to some of these can result in serious illnesses.

As a result of spills, monitoring, outbreaks or other factors, local officials may determine that closure of beaches is appropriate. Prior to recommending closure, officials must evaluate the relative risk based on the available information. Contaminated water may contain bacteria, viruses, and other organisms that can cause flu-like illnesses, resulting in vomiting, fever or diarrhea, as well as skin rashes and sinus or ear infections.

Local authorities such as cities and counties have the authority to close beaches and recreational water when they present a threat to public health.

Note: This page does not address public safety issues such as drowning, swim instruction, etc. Please refer to these resources for more information on swimming safety:

Updated Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 09:27AM