Starting Friday, boat owners or operators on Lake Minnetonka will be held responsible for any underage drinking that occurs on their boat.

The Lake Minnetonka Conservation District, which regulates use of the lake, approved the change earlier this month.

It will be a misdemeanor for a boat owner or operator to knowingly allow or provide for underage drinking, much like social host ordinances passed by cities that hold homeowners liable.

The Water Patrol Unit for the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, which enforces the conservation district’s rules, will issue citations to violators.

The rule also will apply this winter to licensed owners of fish houses where underage drinking occurs.

“This will definitely make it more clear to everybody and more enforceable,” said Vickie Schleuning, executive director of the conservation district. “Lake safety is one of our priorities.”

Authorities have been ramping up underage drinking enforcement on Lake Minnetonka in the past few years.

Over the July 4th weekend and through the holiday, the Water Patrol issued 45 minor consumption citations. Last year over the July 4th weekend, 50 citations were issued; there were 18 in 2015.

The 14,000-acre lake, the largest in the Twin Cities, typically winds up with the highest number of boating while intoxicated (BWI) arrests in the state.

One boater has died on Minnetonka so far this year. Across the state, nine men have died in boating incidents this year, more at this point than in any year since 2005.