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Sara Meaney, Wisconsin's travel secretary, states the state has 15,000 lakes -- "More than Minnesota." (Michael Sears/Milwaukee newspaper Sentinel)


Wisconsin and also Minnesota have actually no shortage of regional squabbles.

Packers vs. Vikings. Badgers vs. Gophers. Soda vs. Popular music (it’s soda).

Better cold tolerance? Nicer people?

More lakes?

New state tourism Secretary Sara Meaney stuck her toe into the lake conflict May 9, 2019 during an illustration on "Wisconsin’s Afternoon News" on WTMJ radio.

"Wisconsin, many people may not be aware, actually has 15,000 freshwater lakes," she said.

"More than Minnesota?" asked host John Mercure.

"More than Minnesota," said Meaney. "Absolutely. We win. We win."

Minnesota is the "Land the 10,000 Lakes," together the state’s patent plates declare. Yet Wisconsin isn’t exactly a desert.

As residents of both says head because that the nearest body of water in droves this Memorial work weekend, we assumed we would, well, dive right into this one.


Who has an ext lakes?

Not simple question

Our quest begins with the easiest version that this question.

Hey Wisconsin, how plenty of lakes do you have?

15,074, says the Wisconsin department of natural Resources.

Hey Minnesota, how numerous lakes do YOU have?

11,842, states the Minnesota department of natural Resources.

Congratulations, Wisconsin, friend win?

Nope. It"s not almost that simple.

What provides a lake?

Let"s begin by figuring out what a lake is. Does a lake have to have actually a name? it is in a specific size? What if it’s in reality a flowage? (And what the hell is a flowage?) What about intermittent lakes, that come and also go by season (as opposed to year-round lakes)?

Minnesota specifies a lake together a human body of water greater than 10 acres. That’s just how it acquired the 11,482 number in its windy Waters Inventory.

Wisconsin defines a lake as, well, anything that feels favor calling a lake. Thousands are less than 10 acres. The the 15,074 "documented lakes" in the state, 60% don’t also have a name.

If we use Wisconsin’s lake database and apply the exact same 10-acre typical as Minnesota, Wisconsin has actually only 5,898 lakes. However the 2 state databases have different criteria for inclusion therefore this alone doesn’t clear up our debate.

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Peter Boulay, a climatologist through the Minnesota DNR, said different agencies usage different definitions of lake because that their own purposes, yet there is no nationally accepted definition. He deferred to Paul S. Welch, a college of Michigan professor who in 1935 literally wrote the publication on limnology — the study of lakes and also other body of fresh water.

Welch wrote that normally accepted interpretations of lake describe "a human body of stand water completely isolated indigenous the sea and having one area the open, fairly deep water sufficiently huge to develop somewhere on its periphery a barren, wave-swept shore."

But he pointed out distinct lake shapes and makeup produce problems because that this meaning and made decision instead to specify lakes by exclusion. Welch stated ponds space "very small, really shallow body of stand water in which quiet water and extensive occupancy by higher aquatic plants room common."