Is Lake Minnetonka party scene reaching a tipping point?

Lake Minnetonka's overseers recently had a meeting to discuss what some consider excessive partying in areas known as Big Island and Cruiser's Cove.

Partying, especially on the Fourth of July, has happened for years on the lake, but long-time residents and users of the lakes said this year was particularly troubling.

Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek said they received 75 calls to the lake and 17 people received treatment July 4. An estimated 8,000 boats were on the lake that day.

Aerial drone footage of the lake on the Fourth of July showed hundreds of people at the lake, on boats and the shore.

"The thing that was most disturbing to me as the sheriff of this county, responsible for patrolling that lake and the safety and security of the people who use that lake, was the number of alcohol-related incidents that turned into medical emergencies," he said on MPR News with Tom Weber.

When emergencies happen on the lake, the heavy boat traffic complicates efforts to help those in trouble, he said. The lanes markers on the lake, which were created to provide access for emergencies, were jammed during peak times, which made it tough for law enforcement to get to calls.

"This isn't like a street address," Stanek said. "When someone calls 911 and they're on a boat and they say, 'Hey we've got a problem and we're that big blue Bayliner boat, 32 foot in the cove,' which one exactly do I go to?"

Officials haven't enacted any new rules for boats on the lake, but are considering stricter enforcement of lanes, controlling boat numbers and more crackdowns on underage alcohol consumption. All lake users should be courteous to others, have a designated driver for the boat and take any trash back to shore with you, Stanek said.

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