Monitoring crews from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency are beginning the fourth year of a 10-year effort to assess the condition of rivers, streams and lakes in Minnesota.
This work is funded by the Clean Water Fund, from the constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2008.
The majority of monitoring activities will focus on Minnesota's 81 major watersheds. Each watershed is comprised of a network of interconnected streams, lakes, and wetlands. Monitoring will help develop a complete picture of the conditions of the various water body types within each watershed and will help the MPCA choose options for improving water quality where necessary.
Monitoring in rivers and streams will primarily be carried out by two biological monitoring teams. The MPCA's biological monitoring staff is divided into a north team in Brainerd and a south team in St. Paul. This summer, the north team will work in the watersheds of the Long Prairie, Red Eye, Nemadji, Sandhill and Thief rivers, and southern tributaries to Lake Superior. The south team will work in the watersheds of the Cannon, Rock, Upper and Lower Big Sioux, and Little Sioux rivers.
In addition, crews will complete last year's start at sampling 150 river and stream sites picked at random, to determine the statewide condition of streams.
Other MPCA monitoring teams working with the Department of Natural Resources will track water quality trends on major rivers at the outlets of most major watersheds in Minnesota.
Stream monitoring measures and evaluates the condition of rivers and streams by studying fish, aquatic invertebrates (such as insect larvae, worms, crayfish and leeches) and plant life as well as habitat, flow, and water chemistry.
Lake monitoring crews will sample more than 50 lakes in the same watersheds. Lake teams will focus on nutrient concentrations and other water chemistry parameters to assess lakes for their ability to support recreational uses.
Wetland monitoring crews will sample 150 randomly-picked wetlands throughout Minnesota as part of a national study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For the first time, all wetland types will be sampled, including wet meadows, marshes and bogs. This study will provide the first-ever estimate of the quality of Minnesota's wetlands. It will be repeated every five years in support of Minnesota's "no net loss" policy.
In addition to MPCA crews, local partners will assist with stream and lake monitoring, funded by MPCA grants in these watersheds. The MPCA also relies on a large contingent of trained volunteers to collect water quality data on lakes and streams.
For more information about the MPCA's condition monitoring program activities, visit www.pca.state.mn.us/clyp906.