Principal Investigator: Bruce Wilson
Co-Investigator(s): John Nieber
Organization(s): University of Minnesota, Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering
Sponsor: Clean Water Fund
Award Amount: $106,125
Start Date: 4/15/2011 | End Date: 12/31/2012
Project Manager(s): Heidi Peterson
FINAL REPORT is available on the Minnesota Water Research Digital Library
June 30, 2011 Workshop Final Report
The goal of this project was to select sentinel watersheds in Minnesota. These are watersheds that will be used to monitor changes in water quality as a result of conservation practices on the ground.
A sentinel watershed is essentially a model; data collected in a sentinel watershed allows researchers to infer what they would see in another area of the state that has similar landscape features.
A watershed is a land area that drains into a common lake, stream, river or ocean.
Water is a precious resource for most Minnesotans. To protect this resource, many projects have been funded at the federal, state and local levels of government. These projects are often focused on data collection and aimed at either addressing a specific research need or solving a particular pollutant problem. Although these projects have provided valuable information, the collected data are often inadequate for Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDLs) studies because:
Data must be collected in a way that allows it to be used in TMDL studies; otherwise the overall implementation plan may not be effective. What researchers and watershed professionals need is an organized and consistent way to collect meaningful data.
Why is monitoring data needed?
In-field, observed monitoring data is needed to understand the health of the water, to determine water quality standards, and develop realistic expectations for pollutant load reductions.
This project used an advisory team to develop criteria and select sentinel watersheds. These watersheds will be used to watch for changes in the health of local waterbodies as well as improve understanding about runoff and other transport processes (i.e. sediment transport from a stream bank to a waterbody).
Information gathered in sentinel watershed will help inform water monitoring efforts all over the state and provide a framework for coordinating data collection. This will lead to more cost effective and consistent procedures.
Watersheds that have large existing databases are likely to be the most-cost effective.