April 20, 2018

Monitor your favorite Minnesota lake or stream as a volunteer for MPCA

By Minnesota Pollution Control Agency–

In June 2012, Duluth experienced the worst flooding in its history, causing major erosion and damage to area streams and rivers. A few months earlier, Gail Gilliland began monitoring Knowlton Creek in West Duluth as part of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Citizen Stream Monitoring Program. “As I dipped my new Secchi tube into the cold waters of Knowlton Creek, I claimed ownership of this lovely but impaired stream. I enjoyed the peaceful quiet of my new Citizen Science project.”

Gail measuring water clarity in Knowlton Creek with a Secchi tube.

Even prior to the flood, a restoration project was planned for the creek because it carried a lot of sediment and had poor habitat for fish. During the summer and fall of 2016, the Knowlton Creek Watershed Restoration Project implemented numerous improvements to reduce erosion, reconfigure the stream-channel to promote more natural flows, and improve fish habitat. Pools and riffles, which are important for fish and insects to thrive, were added to the stream channel and native plants were added to the banks. The year following restoration work, Gail observed a healthier stream, recording higher Secchi water clarity readings. She anticipates even better results this year. Gail’s data help measure the impact of restoration work on Knowlton Creek.

The MPCA’s Citizen Water Monitoring Programs need more volunteers like Gail to help track the health of Minnesota lakes and streams. As part of the program, volunteers perform a short and simple water clarity test at their favorite lake or stream regularly throughout the summer. No prior experience is necessary and the MPCA provides the equipment and training you need to get started.

Find out if your favorite lake or stream needs monitoring by using the MPCA’s interactive map.  To become a volunteer or learn more about the program, visit the Citizen water monitoring enrollment webpage, or call 651-296-6300 (Twin Cities) or 800-657-3864 (Greater Minnesota).