The Red River of the North is the third of state’s 5 largest rivers to be monitored by MPCA

Contact: Dan Olson, 218-846-8108

Detroit Lakes, Minn. — The Red River of the North is one of Minnesota’s five largest rivers to be targeted by a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's (MPCA) intensive water quality monitoring effort.

The MPCA is half way through a 10-year effort to assess the condition of smaller rivers, streams and lakes throughout Minnesota’s 81 watersheds. The state’s largest rivers — the Mississippi, Minnesota, Rainy, Red and St. Croix — are being studied to complement that effort.

During the warm months of 2015-16, MPCA monitoring crews will travel the Red River from its headwaters in Breckenridge to the Canadian border. A crew is currently working in the area between Wahpeton and Fargo.

Twenty-nine smaller watersheds flow into the Red River before it crosses the Canadian border. By combining the results of ongoing monitoring in these smaller watersheds with results from the Red River, the MPCA can obtain a more complete picture of water quality conditions in the area and potential problem areas.

MPCA staff will analyze fish, aquatic invertebrates, habitat, fish tissue, and water chemistry. Aquatic invertebrates include insect larvae, crayfish, snails, small clams, worms and leeches. Stream water chemistry is monitored to provide information about the quality of the water in which these fish and invertebrates live. Fish tissue samples will be taken to update fish consumption advisories.

Portions of the Red River are experiencing greater than normal flow for this time of year, which is hampering the team’s fish sampling efforts.

If sampling results do not meet state standards, the sampling location could be deemed impaired. If that happens, the MPCA will look for causes and ways to correct the problems.

To see monitoring teams in action, you can watch short videos on fish sampling and invertebrate sampling on the Biological monitoring of water in Minnesota webpage.

For more information about these monitoring program activities, visit the MPCA’s Water quality condition monitoring webpage.