Contact: Stephen Mikkelson, 218-855-5001
Editor's note: Photos of MPCA staff performing monitoring field work are available at www.pca.state.mn.us/newscenter/photos.html
Brainerd, Minn. -- As part of the Clean Water Legacy Act passed by the legislature in 2006, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will launch a 10-year biological monitoring project throughout the state this summer. The goal of the project is to assess the condition of rivers and streams in Minnesota's major watersheds.
Biological monitoring measures and evaluates the condition of rivers, streams and wetlands by studying fish, aquatic invertebrates and plant life. Examples of aquatic invertebrates include insect larvae, crayfish, snails, small clams, worms and leeches.
Fish are sampled with the aid of electro-shocking equipment that temporarily stuns fish to allow for safe capture. Biologists then identify fish species, weigh and measure, and release them unharmed. Invertebrates are collected using hand-held nets so species can be identified and tallied at each monitoring location.
There are certain expectations for what fish, aquatic invertebrates and plants should look like at a given sampling location. If actual samples differ significantly from those expectations, the sampling location could be considered impaired. If that happens, the MPCA would look more closely at what could be causing impairments and find ways to correct the problem.
MPCA biological monitoring staff are divided into two teams, with the north team located in Brainerd and the south team in St. Paul. This summer, the north team will be working in the watersheds of the Upper and Lower Red River of the North, the Little Fork River and the Sauk River. The south team will be working in the watersheds of the Le Sueur River, the Mississippi River at Red Wing and the Root River.
The south team will also sample 65 wetlands as part of a multi-year, interagency effort to better understand wetland water quality and quantity in Minnesota. Other MPCA monitoring teams will sample nearly 100 lakes throughout Minnesota, track water quality trends at major rivers and work with the Department of Natural Resources to establish permanent flow and water quality sampling stations at the outlets of the major watersheds.
For more information about the MPCA's biological monitoring program, visit www.pca.state.mn.us/water/biomonitoring/index.html.
Biological and other water quality monitoring data is available through the MPCA's Environmental Data Access system at www.pca.state.mn.us/data/eda/index.cfm.