Water Resources Center

The Water Resources Center is affiliated with the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and University of Minnesota Extension.

Volunteer Stream Monitoring Partnership attracts 1800 volunteers

Since the Volunteer Stream Monitoring Partnership (VSMP) began its first full year of operation in 2001, the program has mobilized over 1,800 volunteers by offering hands-on stream monitoring opportunities and events. Housed in the U of M’s Water Resources Center on the St. Paul campus, VSMP addresses four main areas: ensuring quality data; strengthening partner collaboration and expanding outreach; securing support to coordinate and improve volunteer stream monitoring; and assessing the needs and results of volunteer monitoring in the Twin Cities region.

In 2002 VSMP has provided training sessions to city and county employees, teachers, and students, ranging from “Introduction to Biological Monitoring” and “Advanced Macroinvertebrate Identification,” to “Introduction to Chemical Monitoring.” Once trained, volunteers are able to monitor the water quality in metro area streams. VSMP staff continue to work closely with local coordinators and volunteers to ensure quality data. Quality assurance measures are clearly stated and quality checks are performed at all levels.

This summer, a major accomplishment for VSMP will be the launch of the Met Council database that will house all of the current and historic stream data collected by volunteers in the metro area. VSMP staff will verify the data before it is entered into the database. Ultimately, volunteers themselves will be entering their results and generating reports online.

A highlight for 2002 will be the Second Annual River Summit to be held November 14, 2002, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. This event will build on last year’s River Summit where over 230 students and teachers, natural resource professionals, elected officials, nonprofit organizations, and individuals from the private sector participated in a day of data sharing and presentations, networking, and celebrating the work of volunteers.

Working through a coalition of water educators called The Watershed Partners, the Metropolitan Council awarded a multi-year start-up grant of $400,000 to fund VSMP, and the Water Resources Center offered to provide administrative support and infrastructure. The volunteer network continues to expand. With the addition of several groups in Scott County that will be joining the partnership this fall, volunteer monitoring will be going strong in six of the seven metro counties.

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High school students conduct a stream-side
inventory of aquatic organisms during a VSMP
event (Anoka Conservation District).