Citizen Monitoring Program: Annual summary

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Citizen Monitoring Programs (CMP) provide the opportunity for anyone in Minnesota with an interest in lakes and streams to participate in a simple, yet meaningful citizen science monitoring program.

CMP volunteers take weekly measurements of water clarity (transparency) during the summer using equipment provided by the MPCA. These collaborative programs represent one of the best methods for obtaining large-scale, long-term water quality data in Minnesota. For many lakes and streams, CMP data are the only regularly collected water quality information available, making this work by CMP volunteers invaluable. This report summarizes data collected during the most recent monitoring season, as well as program participation.

Program participation

Although participation in the CMP peaked in 2008, the number of volunteers in both the lake and stream programs has stabilized over the last few years, with the stream program experiencing an 8% increase in volunteer monitors during 2017. We continue to strive for increased participation by reaching out to local governments and partner organizations, and by using new tools for recruitment such as social media.

Number of stream and lake program volunteers 1998-2017

Graph showing citizen monitoring participation from 1998 to 2017.

Total number of volunteers and sites for 2017

Chart showing number of CMP volunteers and sites in 2017.

This chart shows the total number of volunteers and sites on both lakes and streams during the 2017 monitoring season (number of whole lakes monitored in parentheses).

 

Number of volunteers in each watershed

These maps display the number of volunteers for lakes and streams in each of the 80 major watersheds in Minnesota. In general, there is a greater number of lake volunteers clustered in the lakes-rich northern region of the state; stream volunteers are more numerous in the southern region of the state.

Double-click on a map to zoom in and find your watershed.

Lake volunteers

Counts of lake monitoring volunteers by watershed

Stream volunteers

Counts of stream monitoring volunteers by watershed,

 

Secchi water clarity data summaries

Water clarity is the core measurement taken by volunteers in both the Citizen Lake and Citizen Stream Monitoring Programs. Water clarity is a quick and easy measurement that tells us a lot about a lake or stream’s water quality. First, it indicates the amount of light penetration into a lake or stream, which is important for plant growth. Second, Secchi water clarity provides an indirect measure of the amount of suspended material in the water. Suspended materials in lakes most often consist of predominantly algae, while sediments are more common in streams.

Water clarity readings for lakes and streams are grouped into ranges, from poor to excellent:

Transparency categories

 

Lakes and stream sites in each Secchi water clarity category

These categories serve as benchmarks for comparing readings across lakes and streams in Minnesota. The percentage of sites in each category is very consistent with previous years. The largest percentage of both lake and stream sites monitored last year fall into the “Very good” category. A higher percentage of lakes (38%) fall into the “Excellent” category than streams (27%), whereas there are more streams (14%) than lakes (6%) in the “Fair” category.

Chart showing percentages of lake and stream sites in each Secchi water clarity category.

 

Average summer water clarity: Streams

This map shows the distribution of average summer water clarity across Minnesota for stream sites monitored during the most recent monitoring season.

Double-click on the map to zoom in and find a site; click on a site to view its summary data

 

Average summer water clarity: Lakes

This map shows the distribution of average summer water clarity across Minnesota lakes monitored during the most recent monitoring season.

Double-click on the map to zoom in and find a site; click on a site to view its summary data

 

More information

For more information on volunteer water monitoring, go to the main citizen water monitoring page.