The MPCA is launching its recruitment for volunteers to help monitor the quality of lakes and streams, with a new, more inclusive name for this important program. The popular program relies on Minnesota residents to help monitor the state’s more than 12,000 lakes and more than 92,000 miles of streams and rivers.
Through the Volunteer Water Monitoring Program, volunteers do a simple water clarity test in their favorite body of water twice a month during the summer. Lake monitors boat or paddle to a designated spot to check the clarity, while river and stream monitors record data from the streambank or a bridge over it. The MPCA provides the proper equipment and training, and no experience is needed.
Data gathered by volunteers extends the agency’s reach and complements the MPCA’s intensive water monitoring around the state. In some cases, the information gathered by volunteers is the only monitoring done on a particular lake, river or stream.
The agency uses the data to help determine whether lakes and streams are meeting water quality standards designed to protect aquatic life and recreation like fish and swimming. If so, these waters are candidates for protective strategies. If not, then studies may follow to determine the pollutants, sources of those pollutants, and ways to reduce them.
What’s in a name?
Coined in the mid-1990s, the term “citizen science” has done wonders for promoting the value of volunteer engagement and highlighting the monumental contributions they can make to scientific research across the globe. Unfortunately, by labeling volunteers “citizen scientists,” it has also pushed one potential group of participants to the sidelines — non-US citizens.
The MPCA recognizes that by using the word “citizen” in our program name we have established a barrier to participation for those who are not citizens or who have loved ones who are not citizens of this county. To this end, the MPCA’s Citizen Lake & Stream Monitoring Programs will now be the MPCA’s Volunteer Water Monitoring Program.
The name of the program may be changing, but the work of our amazing volunteers and the impact they have on water quality throughout the state remains the same. Thank you to our volunteers for making the Volunteer Water Monitoring Program an initiative to be proud of for all residents of Minnesota!
Become a volunteer
To sign up to be a 2022 volunteer, please visit the program webpage for site availability near you or reach out via email at email@example.com. Both current and new volunteers should be sure to join our Facebook group for important program updates, water quality information, and community discussions with other volunteers.