SAFL leads crowdfunding campaign to study boat wakes in Minnesota Lakes

Recreational boating is a beloved summer activity in Minnesota; however, the increased number of large boats on Minnesota lakes and rivers could negatively impact shorelines, lake bottoms, and other recreational activities. This late summer and fall, the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL) is proposing to research the impacts of boat wakes and propeller wash on lake bottoms and shorelines. This research is entirely funded by interested community members and organizations.Thus far, over $64,000 has been raised, which is over two-thirds of the target fundraising goal! 

Boat wakes refer to the waves created by large watercraft, including wake-surfing boats that have grown in popularity in recent years. In order to characterize the wakes of various boats, researchers will place calibrated sensors in lake shore environments typical of Minnesota to measure wave heights, wave energy, near-bed turbulence and other parameters. Researchers are also going to deploy temporary sensor arrays on lake bottoms to assess the impacts of propeller wash, which refers to the turbulent jet of water produced by the boat motor and propeller that may penetrate the water column deeply enough to impact lake bottoms or submerged aquatic vegetation. These experiments will start late summer 2020 and continue throughout boating season. 

As funding allows, SAFL will also work towards designing a simple and affordable open access wave monitoring system that interested organizations can employ to develop their own wave monitoring program on their lake of interest. SAFL researchers will be available to help train those interested in how best to collect and report data, leading to the development of a statewide wave and boat wake monitoring program.

Check out the media coverage of this project by the Star Tribune, MinnPost, Duluth's KUMD radio, and MPR.

You can donate to this effort by visiting the project crowdfunding site.

Meet the project team:

Bios and images of boat wake project members