Surface water data | Submittal, review and reports

The MPCA uses a system called EQuIS (Environmental Quality Information System) to store water quality data from more than 17,000 sampling locations across the state. EQuIS contains information from Minnesota streams and lakes dating back to 1926.

2020-2021 timeline:

  • Through June 1, 2020: Submit project and location metadata. Complete 2019 data review.
  • Through Nov. 1, 2020: Submit project lab and field data.
  • Dec. 1, 2020: Begin final data review.
  • Dec. 15, 2020: Complete final data review for assessment related data.
  • Jan. 15, 2021: Data finalized and ready for the 2021 assessment process.

The MPCA has developed a format for an electronic data deliverable (EDD), the Lab_MN, for the submittal of lab data. This format is available for all labs to work on and incorporate into their processes.

The Contractor must develop the capability to provide the analytical data in the MPCA LAB_MN format. After the Contract Award, the Contractor should contact the MPCA Contract Representative with questions about this format.

The Lab_MN, chain-of-custody (COC), and instructions for filling out the COC are posted on EarthSoft’s Lab_MN Files For Minnesota Pollution Control Agency website. Please visit the MPCA EQuIS website for additional information about EQuIS and direct any questions to David Vaaler at 651-757-2400. 

The MPCA has adopted Lab_MN as the standard format for the submittal of all EQuIS bound surface water data.  If a laboratory cannot provide data in this format, the  Office spreadsheet icon Surface water data template (wq-s5-04) is available.  Please note:  The MPCA will be retiring the template for laboratory data submittals after the 2019 data review period is complete. The template will continue to be available only for field data submittals.

The Project and Location forms are referred to as metadata forms. Their purpose is to provide information that characterizes data to answer who, what, when, where, why, and how about upcoming data results.

To complete the metadata forms online, first click on the required form, then at ‘File Download’ choose ‘Save’ and save the form to your desktop. Proceed to complete and email the required metadata and data referred to in Steps 1-3 to an EQuIS team member and designated MPCA project manager.

Note: It is important to always use the current online version of these forms, since they are updated frequently.

Step 1: Submit a Project Establishment Form for new projects or project updates.

Step 2: Submit a Location Establishment Form for the establishment of new sampling locations or for previously existing sampling locations that need to be associated with your project (co-located sites).

Step 3: Submit data results On or Before November 1.

EDD formats and tools are now available. 

  • The MPCA is encouraging the use of a lab data EDD, Lab_MN, for the submittal of lab data results. Please check with your lab to determine if they have implemented the Lab_MN,
  • The EDGE tool has been made available for collecting field results and generating a field data EDD, EDGE_MN, for the submittal of field data results. Please check with your field staff to determine if they are using EDGE_MN, 
  • Please visit the MPCA EQuIS website for more information.

The Surface Water Data Template continues to be available for the submittal of data results. Please use this option if:

  • Your lab has not implemented the Lab_MN.
  • Your sample collectors are not using the MPCA provided field data collection tool EDGE but still need to provide field data.

The current version of the Surface Water Data Template now requires the entry of lab metadata in rows 1-7. Please fill out these rows completely and accurately or the data will not be entered.

The MPCA's data management process supports the agency’s goal of timely and quality data storage.

To protect the quality of data in EQuIS, newly submitted data is marked as preliminary until it has been reviewed. MPCA project managers must review the data themselves or delegate it to a local partner who may be more familiar with the data.

Listed below are the important dates for this year’s upcoming final data review period.

2020-2021 priority watershed data timeline for project managers

  • Now through Nov. 1: Submit lab and field data.
  • Dec. 1: Begin final data review.
  • Dec. 1-15:  Complete final data review.

During the first week of December, crosstab reports with review instructions will be emailed to project managers who submitted an "EQuIS ready" data template (see below) or an electronic data deliverable to the EQuIS Team by Nov. 1, 2020. Please visit the MPCA EQuIS website for additional information about EDD submittals.

All priority watershed data must be finalized and ready for the assessment process by January 15, 2021. Late submittals will be processed as time allows. If deadlines are missed, the data will likely not be finalized in time to be used. Data submittal and review deadlines are important for those who want their data considered during the upcoming round of assessments.

The MPCA will conduct surface water assessments for these watersheds in early 2021 to determine whether water bodies meet state water quality standards:

  • 04010201: St. Louis River

  • 07010203: Mississippi River - St. Cloud

  • 07020005: Chippewa River

  • 07030005: Lower St. Croix River

  • 07080102: Upper Wapsipinicon River

  • 07080201: Cedar River

  • 07080202: Shell Rock River

  • 07080203: Winnebago River

  • 09020104: Upper Red River of the North

  • 09020106: Buffalo River

How to access EQuIS data:

  • Environmental Data Access (EDA). This database houses environmental data across a wide range of topics. EDA offers data viewing and downloading capabilities.
  • HTML icon STORET/WQX (U.S. EPA) - EPA’s data warehouse, a repository for water quality, biological, and physical data, provides access to data from many agencies including MPCA EQuIS data.
  • Customized data reports: Please contact an EQuIS team member.


Please contact an MPCA EQuIS Team member if you have questions.

  • David Vaaler, 651-757-2400 — EQuIS Program Coordinator
  • Nancy Flandrick, 651-757-2361 — Mankato, Rochester and St. Paul offices
  • Jean Garvin, 651-757-2378 — Detroit Lakes and Marshall offices
  • Mary Knight, 651-757-2424 — Brainerd and Duluth offices