MPCA beginning second ten-year cycle of water quality monitoring field work throughout Minnesota

Contact: Steve Mikkelson, 218-316-3887

Back in 2008, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) began its first ten-year cycle of watershed-wide monitoring efforts in the Root, Le Sueur, Mississippi River-Lake Pepin, Little Fork and Sauk River watersheds. Starting in May, a decade later, MPCA staff will begin the second ten-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, the 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 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 and/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 the MPCA. Water quality data collected will include things such as nutrients, sediment, and bacteria. MPCA staff will monitor the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers in 2018 and lakes across the state. 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: 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 webpages.

You can learn more about all of this water quality monitoring work on the MPCA’s Biological Monitoring, Lake Monitoring, Stream Monitoring, and Volunteer Citizen Monitoring webpages.