Man removes 4,000 pounds of trash from Lake Hiawatha over three-year span

Lake Hiawatha in south Minneapolis is filling up with trash and one man is making it his mission to clean it up.

Sean Connaughty has recovered more than 4,000 pounds of trash from Lake Hiawatha.

The University of Minnesota Arts professor began picking up trash at the lake during his free time about three years ago. Now he’s working to call attention to the pollution.

“My worst fear is that we’ll do nothing because the trash problem is only going to get worse,” said Connaughty.

Connaughty, who lives nearby, says among several sources of trash is a massive sewer storm pipe.

“That empties 900 acres of south Minneapolis streets right into the lake - there’s no filtration,” he said.

Some of the items that Connaughty has recovered from the lake include: barrettes, lawn care sign holders and hypodermic needles.

“Trash is only the visible symptom of the larger problem because we can see the trash, but there’s a lot of pollutants that we can’t see,” said Connaughty.

Connaughty proposes that the Park Board look into developing a mitigation system to stop the trash from draining into a lake. He says that he’s working to rally the community to take action before it’s too late.

“If nothing happens, then we’re throwing away this treasure of a lake which is a beautiful place,” he said.