MPCA beginning water quality monitoring field work in the Otter Tail River watershed

Contact: Dave Dollinger, 218-316-3918

Detroit Lakes, Minn. — Monitoring crews from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will be focusing on the Otter Tail River Watershed beginning this month and continuing into June in an effort to assess the condition of rivers, streams and lakes that lie within the watershed. The intent of the monitoring effort is to develop a complete picture of the various water bodies within the watershed. The work is being funded by the Clean Water Fund from the constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2008, and will include biological monitoring and water chemistry monitoring.

The Otter Tail River Watershed is very large, covering 1,249,541 acres. It includes northern forested areas around Elbow Lake Village, western prairies near Breckenridge, and lake regions around Ottertail, Detroit Lakes and Pelican Rapids. The majority of the lakes in the greater Red River Basin are found in this watershed.

The monitoring is designed to measure and evaluate the condition of rivers, streams, and ditches by studying the biology including fish and aquatic insects, as well as habitat, flow, and water chemistry. Crews will sample all lakes greater than 500 acres in size, and as many lakes over 100 acres as possible.

The MPCA has standards for what the biology and water chemistry should look like at a given sampling location. If a specific sample does not meet those expectations, the sampling location could be considered impaired and restoration activities may be undertaken. For lakes and streams that are meeting standards, protection strategies may be warranted. The MPCA relies on a large contingent of volunteers and local partners to collect water quality data on lakes and streams as well as assist in the overall planning of the monitoring.

Questions concerning the monitoring work can be directed to Dave Dollinger by email at or by phone at 218-316-3918.