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MPCA to begin water quality monitoring field work in Mississippi River-Brainerd Watershed

Monitoring crews from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will be focusing on the Mississippi River-Brainerd Watershed beginning in May in an effort to assess the condition of rivers, streams and lakes throughout the watershed.

Monitoring crews from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will be focusing on the Mississippi River-Brainerd Watershed beginning in May in an effort to assess the condition of rivers, streams and lakes throughout the watershed.

In an effort to inform the public about the comprehensive watershed project, an open house will be held from 4-7 p.m. Thursday, May 19, at the Northland Arboretum, 14250 Conservation Drive, Brainerd.

The work is being funded by the Clean Water Fund from the constitutional amendment that voters passed in 2008. The biological monitoring on streams will be performed by the North Biological Monitoring Unit located in the MPCA Brainerd Regional Office.

Water chemistry monitoring on lakes and streams will be led by staff out of the central MPCA office in St. Paul, with a large portion of the stream water chemistry monitoring being collected by the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Aitkin and Crow Wing counties.

The Mississippi River-Brainerd Watershed monitoring will include most of the tributaries that enter the Mississippi River from northeast of Aitkin to south of Little Falls across portions of Aitkin, Crow Wing, Morrison and Todd counties. The watershed includes 2,149 river miles and 212 lakes greater than 10 acres in size.

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Approximately 65 monitoring stations will be scattered throughout the watershed on waterways, which include the Ripple River, Rice River, Daggett Brook, Nokasippi River, Little Elk River and Swan River, among many others.

The monitoring is designed to measure and evaluate the condition of rivers, streams and ditches by studying the biology, including fish and aquatic invertebrates, as well as habitat, flow and water chemistry. Examples of aquatic invertebrates include insect larvae, crayfish, snails, small clams, worms and leeches.

Water chemistry sampling will provide information about the quality of the water in which these fish and invertebrates live and the recreational suitability of the water.

In addition, MPCA lake monitoring crews will sample all lakes greater than 500 acres in size, and as many lakes over 100 acres as possible. The lake monitoring teams will focus on water clarity, nutrient concentrations and other water chemistry parameters to assess the lakes for their ability to support recreational uses such as swimming.

The MPCA partners with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the collection of fish and plant data to help determine the support of aquatic life use (i.e. the health of the community in the lake). The MPCA has standards for what the biology and water chemistry should look like at a given sampling location.

If a specific sample does not meet those expectations, the sampling location could be considered impaired and restoration activities will be undertaken. For lakes and streams that are meeting standards, protection strategies may be warranted.

The MPCA relies on a large contingent of volunteers and local partners to collect water quality data on lakes and streams as well as assist in the overall planning of the monitoring.

This project is designed to first assess the health of the waters through an intensive watershed monitoring effort and then develop a long-range water quality plan.

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For more information, contact Chad Anderson at chad.anderson@state.mn.us or 218-316-3910.

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