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NATIONAL PARK SERVICE WATER QUALITY MONITORING ON THE ST. CROIX RIVER AND SELECT TRIBUTARIES IN 2007

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE WATER QUALITY MONITORING ON THE ST. CROIX RIVER AND SELECT TRIBUTARIES IN 2007

David VanderMeulen, National Park Service, Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Network
Joan Elias, National Park Service, Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Network

The National Park Service Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Network (Network) is primarily responsible for monitoring vital signs at partner parks in the western Great Lakes region. Vital signs are select indicators that represent the health of natural resources, with water quality identified as one of the most important vital signs to monitor. The Network developed protocols for monitoring water quality in large rivers and inland lakes, and began pilot-testing the large river protocol at Mississippi National River and Recreation Area in 2006.

This year (2007) we began monitoring in the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. The park does not have a water quality monitoring program of its own, and until now relied mainly upon data collected by other agencies and institutions, many of whom are participants on the St. Croix Basin Water Resources Planning Team (Basin Team).

We began monthly monitoring in April, 2007 and will continue through November, measuring core parameters (temperature, pH, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, flow/water level, and clarity), and advanced parameters (turbidity, nutrients, and ions) at 13 sites on the along the mainstem and near the termini of select tributaries of the St. Croix River. The sites are distributed from the northern reaches of the Namekagon River to Lake St. Croix, near its confluence with the Mississippi River. Site selection for monitoring was based on the need to define population characteristics (i.e., randomly selected sites), as well as identifying water quality trends at locations of high interest (i.e., non-randomly selected sites) not currently being monitored by other agencies or institutions.

In this discussion we will explore some preliminary monitoring results from 2007, compare those results with other water quality monitoring efforts at the St. Croix River, and outline future monitoring efforts. Our monitoring will be used to assess water quality trends, supplement other monitoring efforts by the Basin Team members, and provide valuable water quality data to be used in other specific monitoring efforts such as monitoring phosphorus levels in Lake St. Croix and development of TMDL’s for tributaries to the St. Croix River.

Suggested Reading

Magdalene, S., D.R. Engstrom, and J. Elias. 2007. Large rivers water quality monitoring protocol. Version 1.0. National Park Service, Great Lakes Network, Ashland, Wisconsin.