Environmental monitoring

Man servicing air monitorEnvironmental monitoring helps us keep track of the health of Minnesota's environment. We monitor the environment by recording observations, making measurements and analyzing samples and data collected at specific locations.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) monitors many aspects of Minnesota's environment. This page will help you find monitoring data, monitoring reports, and other information about the environmental conditions of Minnesota's air, ground water and surface water in Minnesota. Some biological monitoring information is also included.

We encourage you to contact MPCA staff directly if you cannot find the information you seek using the links on this page. For assistance, call the MPCA at 651-296-6300 or 1-800-657-3864.

Monitoring data

Links to Web pages that feature data sets from environmental measurements.

  • Binary Data National Trends Network (acid rain)
  • Binary Data Mercury Deposition Network (NADP)
  • Air monitoring and emissions data
    MPCA's Environmental Data Access system, an interactive, geographic-based system that allows you to:
    • search for data and information about specific pollutants;
    • use an interactive map to search for data collected at active and inactive ambient air monitoring sites in Minnesota; and
    • view pollutant emissions by source type, including the types and volumes of pollutants emitted by permitted facilities.
  • Air Quality Index for Minnesota
    Daily air quality conditions for the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
  • Groundwater data
    Access to MPCA's most recent analytical data from well testing, and links to related resources.
  • Lakes and water quality
    Learn about MPCA water quality monitoring assessment.
  • Surface water data
    This link connects you to the water quality portion of the MPCA's Environmental Data Access system, an interactive, geographic-based system that allows you to:
    • quickly access statewide water quality data on a site-by-site basis;
    • immediately display site-specific data by specifying the name of a lake, river, or other related location; and
    • view geographically the degree of impairment and how impairment affects the use of impaired lakes and streams.

Requests for monitoring data

Requests for customized sets (retrievals) of environmental monitoring data.

Monitoring summaries, assessments and fact sheets

Collecting a sample of lake waterRelatively concise presentations of environmental monitoring results.

Monitoring reports

Collecting a grab sample of river water from a bridgeMore detailed presentations of environmental monitoring results.

Monitoring programs

Collecting a ground-water sample from a private household wellFind specific information about environmental monitoring programs of interest to you.

  • Air: Includes overview information about Minnesota's air quality and air-related data and program information.
  • Biological monitoring
  • Citizen water monitoring
  • Lakes: An overview of programs, information and activities related to lake monitoring; includes links to related information.
  • Rivers and streams: Links to programs, information and activities related to stream and river monitoring.
  • Contaminated sediments: Includes study descriptions, results and remediation plans for waters with contamination in bottom sediments.

Guidance documents and recommended procedures

Quality Assurance and Quality Control

Overview of Quality Assurance Program, quality policy and procedures, plus links to other Web pages associated with laboratory certification and quality assurance.


Evaluating water clarity of a streamEnvironmental monitoring terms used on this page:

  • Database: A collection of data arranged for ease and speed of retrieval. Much, but not all of the MPCA's monitoring data are stored in computer databases. It is possible to retrieve the entire contents of a computer database or to just retrieve a subset of the database according to what is needed. The data that are retrieved can be reported in various formats or arrangements. However, additional work is required to produce unique subsets of data or to report the data in a non-standard format.
  • Monitoring: Collecting information by means of activities such as recording observations, making measurements and laboratory analysis of samples collected at a specific location or site of interest. Monitoring commonly involves visiting the site of interest to collect information according to a specific schedule and over a pre-specified length of time. Often, sophisticated instruments are used to make "field" measurements at the site of interest and samples of air, water, plants or animals are collected and later analyzed at a laboratory.
  • Quality Assurance and Quality Control: A system of procedures, checks, audits, and corrective actions to ensure that environmental monitoring and sampling and related technical and reporting activities are of the highest achievable or most appropriate quality.

  • STORET: A national database maintained by the EPA for the storage and retrieval of data relating to the quality of the waterways of the United States.