Lake Pepin
2ND ROUND: The Mississippi River-Lake Pepin watershed is one of five watersheds that MPCA will recheck.

Another cycle of water quality monitoring begins

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency monitors five watersheds for a second 10-year cycle.

In 2008, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency began its first 10-year cycle of watershed-wide monitoring efforts in the Root, Le Sueur, Mississippi River-Lake Pepin, Little Fork and Sauk River watersheds.

A decade later, MPCA staff in May began the second 10-year cycle of monitoring efforts in these same watersheds to see if conditions are improving or declining. This work is funded by the Clean Water Fund from the constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2008.

Initially, staff will be contacting landowners within these watersheds to inform them of the monitoring efforts and to gain permission to sample stations located on their property. From mid-June through September, MPCA will sample rivers, streams and ditches for fish, macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects), habitat and water chemistry. Staff biologists will sample roughly 85 northern and 128 southern stations across the watersheds.

This year’s work will also include follow-up monitoring at roughly 50 northern and 40 southern stations from 2017 watersheds including the Pomme de Terre, Snake, Redwood, Cottonwood, Blue Earth, Rapid, Lower Rainy and North Fork Crow river watersheds.

Heavy rains and high flows in the south, and severe drought conditions in the north last summer prevented the completion of monitoring efforts. In addition, staff will continue efforts to monitor about 30 long-term biological monitoring network stations, which are intended to track conditions or changes over time across the state.

Local partners will be collecting water quality data from stream and lake sites from the same major watersheds being targeted this year by MPCA. Water quality data collected will include information on nutrients, sediment and bacteria. MPCA staff will monitor the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers and lakes across the state in 2018. The data collected by agency staff and local partners will feed directly into water quality assessments of these watersheds.

MPCA staff are in the final stages of publishing monitoring and assessment reports from watersheds monitored during the summer of 2015. The reports are scheduled to be finalized and published online this summer.

Watershed reports this year include the Lac Qui Parle River; Minnesota River-Headwaters; Upper Wapsipinicon River and Winnebago River; Upper Iowa River, Mississippi River-Reno and Mississippi River-La Crescent; Roseau River; Cloquet River; Vermillion River; and the Mississippi River-Grand Rapids. The reports will be posted on these individual MPCA watershed web pages. You can find your watershed at, and type “watersheds” in the search box.

Source: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

TAGS: Conservation
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