Do you live near a lake or stream in Minnesota, or visit one regularly? If so, the Pelican River Watershed District and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency need your help.

How you can help

Become a citizen lake or stream volunteer and help gather vital information about the health of our water resources. Volunteers measure the clarity of lakes and streams, collecting valuable data the MPCA uses to make decisions on watershed protection and restoration. For some lakes and streams, data collected by volunteers are the only data available, making this work indispensable.

Join more than 1,400 Minnesotans who track the health of their favorite lake or stream through the Citizen Lake and Stream Monitoring Programs!

Volunteer Duties

As a volunteer, you will use simple equipment provided by the MPCA to measure transparency at a designated location on your lake or stream each week, from April through September. Transparency, or water clarity, is an important indicator of lake or stream health.

At the end of the summer, all volunteers return their completed datasheets to the MPCA to be compiled with other valuable water quality data.

Lake volunteers

  • need access to a watercraft such as canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, or motor boats
  • use a Secchi disc attached to a calibrated rope to measure transparency

Stream volunteers

  • can monitor any stream or river that flows year round
  • collect a water sample from a safe location on a bridge or the stream bank, and use a Secchi tube to measure transparency
  • are encouraged to join CoCoRaHS - Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network, a national network of precipitation observers.


See more detailed descriptions of volunteer duties.

Sign Up

It’s easy to become a citizen water monitoring volunteer! No prior experience or training is necessary. To get started, submit an enrollment form:

Once enrolled, we can help you identify a specific monitoring location and will send you a complete monitoring kit, including written instructions, datasheets, and training videos.

For more information

If you need additional information or assistance, please contact a Citizen Monitoring Coordinator:

800-657-3864 (Greater Minnesota)
651-296-6300 (Twin Cities metro area)
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