Volunteer surface water monitoring
Minnesota. For most people, our state's name invokes images of clear, blue waters. In fact, the name itself means “sky tinted waters.” Minnesota does, in fact, have an abundance of water resources — more surface waters than any other of the 48 contiguous states.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and its partner organizations currently conduct a variety of surface water monitoring activities on these valuable resources. Monitoring our lakes and streams allows the MPCA to assess the health of Minnesota’s waters to better protect and restore them.
While these natural resources are many, MPCA staff are few and the MPCA simply does not have the resources to monitor the state’s 92,000 miles of rivers, 12,000-plus lakes, and 10.6 million acres of wetlands alone. That’s where volunteer monitoring comes in — the MPCA supports volunteer monitoring programs aimed at increasing the amount of water quality data gathered, providing greater frequency and geographic monitoring coverage, and fostering a sense of stewardship for these precious water resources throughout Minnesota.
The MPCA currently coordinates two volunteer monitoring programs: the Citizen Lake Monitoring Program and the Citizen Stream Monitoring Program. The MPCA also provides technical support to the Wetland Health Evaluation Project.
Video: Citizen Water Testers in Action
By Tom Niemisto, MN2020 Video Production Specialist
The MPCA's network of 1,400 volunteers across the state are making a difference in protecting our state's lakes and streams. Could you be our next volunteer?
Transparency Times is the combined electronic newsletter for the Citizen Lake Monitoring Program (CLMP) and the Citizen Stream Monitoring Program (CSMP). This newsletter is distributed electronically, but printed copies can be provided to volunteers who are unable to receive electronic communications.
- June 2013 Inside: "Thank You" from the MPCA commissioner; 2012 reports available online; MPCA water quality field work begins; "All they talk about is the weather..."; Secchi Dip-In coming up; Citizen Lake Monitoring News; Citizen Stream Monitoring News
- January 2013 Inside: Thank you for 2012 data; Volunteer spotlight; New CLMP coordinator; 2012 - a year of extremes; In-lake treatment FAQs; CSMP volunteer 'Outdoor News' Person of the Year; Stream "appearance" rankings; Send rain data to CoCoRaHS
People who live on lakes or frequently visit lakes help monitor water clarity and quality through the MPCA's Citizen Lake Monitoring Program (CLMP), the nation's longest running volunteer lake monitoring program. Being a volunteer lake monitor requires minimal volunteer time, yet it provides essential information for Minnesota’s lakes.
Volunteers who have participated in the CLMP for at least two years may be eligible to participate in the Advanced Citizen Lake Monitoring Program (CLMP+). The CLMP+ enables participants to collect additional water quality parameters including temperature, dissolved oxygen, phosphorus and chlorophyll-a.
Since 1998 CSMP volunteers have been monitoring the clarity and water level of their neighborhood streams or rivers, while tracking daily rainfall amounts at their homes. These two simple measures, like taking your blood pressure, serve as general indicators of river health.
City-sponsored citizen teams in Dakota and Hennepin counties have been monitoring the health of wetlands in their communities since 1996. Some cities involved with WHEP are making use of plant and invertebrate data collected by volunteers in city planning and water resource decision making.
Friends of the Mississippi River currently coordinates the Stream Health Evaluation Program (SHEP) in the Rice Creek Watershed District. Trained SHEP volunteers evaluate the health of streams by sampling benthic macroinvertebrates — small stream-dwelling bugs.
Volunteer citizen water monitoring is a critical component in understanding and educating Minnesotans about water quality issues. This guide provides information so you as a volunteer can play an important role in monitoring and protecting Minnesota’s water resources.
- Louise Hotka, 651-757-2450
WHEP or SHEP
- Joel Chirhart, 651-757-2273
Outside the Twin Cities metro area, the above contacts can be reached by calling 1-800-657-3864.