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About the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program

Zebra mussels on a rockThe Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) is committed to a leadership role in maintaining and enhancing the integrity of the District's water resources. This section of the website will help you understand what you can do individually, and what we are doing collectively through government agencies, to prevent AIS at bay in our watershed.

The Problem

The presence or introduction of aquatic invasive species (AIS) threatens the quality of aquatic ecosystems. AIS decrease recreational opportunities, alter the food chain and quality of fishing, decrease property values, and increase the private and public costs of managing and controlling their presence. 

Most invasive species present today have been introduced by human activity, including:

  • Accidental release from contaminated waterbodies, via boats, docks or other equipment
  • Accidental release from contaminated or mislabeled bait
  • Aquarium hobbyists and water gardeners dumping fish and/or plants into a waterbody

Sadly there is no safe technique to get rid of most AIS once they're established. While researchers work on long-term solutions, the only way to keep them out of our waterways is for Minnesotans to pitch in and take responsibility for their own equipment. If we all take a few small steps to avoid infesting new waters, we can hopefully stop AIS from proliferating.


In 2010, zebra mussels were discovered in Lake Minnetonka, and have since spread throughout much of the lake. Eurasian watermilfoil, curlyleaf pondweed, flowering rush, common carp and purple loosestrife are also present within the MCWD. Several more destructive AIS have the potential to infest water bodies within the District. 

In 2011, the MCWD met with city and community leaders to seek input about broadening our involvement with the prevention and management of AIS. The consensus was for the MCWD to move forward with AIS management efforts, and the MCWD Board of Managers has begun formalizing a District-wide approach. 

Through education and awareness, applied research projects, and prevention measures, the MCWD plans to expand the array of effective tools available to local governments, lake associations, and residents throughout the District as they work together on AIS. 

Ultimately, however, the responsibility to keep AIS out of the District's waters is every individual's – whether they live here or are visiting. 

MCWD Communications Director Telly Mamayek discussed AIS on WCCO Radio: