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Citizen scientists test Minnesota’s waters

DULUTH, MN — “So, once a week I come and walk down the little path.”

The Tischer Creek path is a familiar one for Beth LaVigne.

“I monitor at this same site every week.”

Every week for the last decade as part of the MPCA’s Citizen Water Monitoring program.

“What scientists, citizen scientists are out here doing is telling us the water clarity and that really gives us a handle on algae and sediment in our streams which directly affects the plant life, the insects, and our fish communities,” said Lucie Amundsen, Public Information Officer with the MPCA.

Amundsen said monitoring the land of 10,000 lakes is no small feat.

“The need really is because we have an abundance of water resources so when citizens can fill in that gap we have a much, much more clear picture of our entire water health as a watershed and a community.”

LaVigne has been monitoring Tischer Creek in Duluth for more than a decade. She said all it takes is three simple steps.

Step one.

“We need to collect water from the middle of the stream so I’ve got my handy dandy bucket and I just toss it out there and grab some water.”

Step two.
“So you pour the water in the tube all the way to the top. You drop this down into this tube and you’re looking straight down into here until you can’t see the pattern on that disc anymore.”

Step three.
“So I record all the information on here.”

Just like that, you’re a citizen scientist!

LaVigne said the end results are important for both the water quality and the person testing it.

“If you learn more about something, an area, you tend to care about it more and if you care about it more you maybe will care for it.”

If you’re considering trying it out LaVigne has one simple piece of advice.

“Well do it! You know, just give it a try!”

Tischer Creek’s results came back very clear at more than 100 centimeters of clarity, something LaVigne says is pretty typical of the creek.

If you’re interested in becoming a water monitor for the MPCA, you can find more information here.

Kristen Vake

Anchor, Reporter

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