The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has developed a watershed monitoring strategy which uses an effective and efficient integration of agency and local monitoring programs to assess the condition of Minnesota’s surface waters. This strategy provides an opportunity to more fully integrate MPCA water resource management efforts in cooperation with local government and stakeholders to allow for coordinated development and implementation of water quality restoration and improvement projects. The main idea behind the watershed monitoring approach is to intensively monitor streams and lakes within a major watershed to determine the overall health of resources, identify impaired waters, and identify waters in need of protection. The benefit of this approach is the opportunity to begin to address most, if not all, impairments in an all-encompassing manner. A watershed approach will also more effectively address the cumulative effects of widespread and single source areas of pollution, and further the Clean Water Act (CWA) goal of protecting and restoring the quality of Minnesota’s water resources.
The MPCA also coordinates two programs aimed at encouraging long term citizen surface water monitoring: the Citizen Lake Monitoring Program (CLMP) and the Citizen Stream Monitoring Program (CSMP). Citizen monitoring is especially effective at helping to track quality changes which occur. This allows citizens the ability to see how their efforts are used to inform water quality decisions and track how management efforts affect change. The CWA requires states to report on the condition of the waters every two years. This is an ongoing program designed to measure and compare regional differences and long-term trends in quality among Minnesota’s major rivers. The MPCA will continue to conduct a variety of surface monitoring activities that support the overall mission of helping Minnesotans protect the environment.