Spring is a good time to review dock and dock platform regulations

Before installing or investing in a new dock or dock platform, lake home and cabin owners should check to ensure it will meet state requirements, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said. Lake service provider businesses should review the regulations, to ensure the equipment they sell or install is in compliance.  

“The current dock and dock platform regulations have been in existence for many years, but not everyone is familiar with them,” said Jack Gleason, DNR public waters hydrologist.

“Residents might assume that if another lakeshore owner has a dock with a large platform, it meets the rules for the state,” Gleason said. “Sometimes, that isn’t the case. We want residents to understand the requirements before they purchase and install dock sections, rather than telling them later that they need to remove an already-installed structure.”

Dock and dock platform size are regulated to provide a balance between the protection and use of public waters. Extensive dock systems may shade out important aquatic plants and eliminate critical habitat where fish spawn, feed, grow and find shelter from predators.

A dock may not be more than 8 feet wide and may not be combined with other similar structures to create a wider dock.

A modest platform at the lake end of a dock is allowed under certain conditions. A single, temporary platform up to 120 square feet measured separately from the access dock, or 170 square feet including the area of the adjacent access dock, is allowed if the following conditions exist:

  • The access dock must be 5 feet wide or less, and
  • The dock must be on a lake with a shoreland classification of general development or recreational development.

Docks must not be a hazard to navigation, health or safety and must allow the free flow of water. A dock should not close off part of the lake to other users. Docks must also comply with any local ordinances.

A document about state dock requirements is available on the DNR website. Also find DNR hydrologists who can assist lake home owners with questions.

The DNR website also contains links to other helpful information for lakeshore owners about shoreline erosion control and restoration projects to help improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat.