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Water Quality Monitoring

Blue Earth River Watershed - Impaired Waters
Blue Earth River Watershed - Water Quality Monitoring

In the Greater Blue Earth River basin, 39 sections of streams and rivers fail to meet the state water quality standard for turbidity, meaning the water is too cloudy and affects aquatic life such as fish. Under state standards, the level of total suspended solids for rivers in the basin should be 90 parts per million. However, levels average between 175 to 675 parts per million according to water monitoring from 2000-2008.

Several stretches of streams in the Greater Blue Earth River also have bacteria levels high enough to violate the state water quality standard, indicating they are not suitable for swimming and other body-contact recreation. Restoring these streams will require reducing bacteria levels by 80 to 90%. The MPCA is working with local partners, focusing on feedlots and failing septic systems, to reduce bacteria levels and make streams suitable for swimming and other body-contact recreation. 


The MPCA and several other agencies monitor the water quality of the rivers and streams in the watershed, an effort that spans more than 20 years. The MPCA has finalized a Total Suspended Solids (TSS) Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report for the Greater Blue Earth River Basin. MPCA recommends a 0% reduction in sediment levels during low-flow conditions and up to a 93% reduction in sediment levels during high-flow conditions such as spring thaw. With this information and other reports from the watershed, the MPCA will work with stakeholders to develop a Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) as part of the Blue Earth Watershed Approach.

Learn more: 
Blue Earth River Watershed (MPCA Website)
Blue Earth Watershed Characterization Report (MPCA, 2020)
Blue Earth River Watershed stressor identification report (MPCA, 2020)

Citizen Stream and Citizen Lake Monitoring Programs

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is seeking volunteers for its Citizen Stream and Citizen Lake Monitoring Programs. Program volunteers track water clarity, which helps the MPCA learn more about a lake or stream’s water quality.

If you’re interested in being a volunteer for this program, please contact your county  SWCD or visit the MPCA website.

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