Water Quality Volunteers Monitor Lakes and Streams
A Maple Grove man named Paul Pagel is one of many water quality volunteers who keeps a close eye on local lakes and streams. The MPCA depends on these volunteers for important data needed to clean up and protect water.
“It’s was very clear on Sunday when I was doing it,” says Pagel, when monitoring the lake near his home. He monitors two sites on Elm Creek in Maple Grove. “It’s greener than it was. It was more tea-colored a few days ago.”
Pagel is a numbers guy and says collecting information is right up his alley.
“I value being able to get data myself,” say Pagel. “So why not share that with the pollution control agency.”
As a trained volunteer, Paul checks the clarity of the water periodically. He records the numbers and sends them in.
“Every other week we make a recording,” says Pagel. “If we have heavy rainfall that is over an inch, we see what changes there are.”
MPCA depends on Water Quality Volunteers
Program coordinator Laurie Sovell says there are 69,000 miles of streams and lakes in the state and 1,300 volunteers who keep an eye on them. Volunteers perform a simple clarity test in their favorite body of water twice a month during the summer. Lake monitoring volunteers boat or paddle to a designated spot to check the clarity, while stream monitoring volunteers may walk, bike or drive to the water or a bridge over it.
“We work with volunteers and partner with volunteers,” says Sovell. “It provides more coverage across the state for stream and lake monitoring.”
The information that volunteers collect helps lead to studies to clean up impaired waters as well as strategies to protect healthy lakes and streams.
MPCA provides equipment and training for citizen monitors, with no previous experience needed. You can check online to see if your favorite body of water needs monitoring as well as sign up for the Citizen Water Monitoring Program.