July 9, 2007

Watershed seeks volunteers to monitor Crow River forks

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The Crow River Organization of Water, CROW, is seeking volunteers for the next few monitoring seasons.

The entire southern fork of the Crow River, starting from Lake Lillian, 25 miles west of Hutchinson, to just east of Rockford, was listed for the first time on the Impaired Waters list compiled by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The group especially needs volunteers for Washington Creek, near Dassel, and Jewitts Creek, near Litchfield, in Meeker County, and Regal Creek in Wright County.

Volunteers also are needed for Buffalo Creek, Silver Creek, Otter Creek and Bear Creek in McLeod County; Buffalo Creek and Judicial Ditch 15 in Renville County; and tributaries and ditches upstream from the Rice and Koronis lakes and the North Fork Crow River in Stearns and Pope counties.

Volunteers in the Citizen Stream Monitoring Program, CSMP, conduct simple weekly stream assessments. They receive a transparency tube, rain gauge, data sheets and instructions for taking measurements in the Crow River Watershed.

Wallace McCurdy of Cokato, Carol Marjapori of Annandale, and Torney Marshall of Hanover monitored the North Fork Crow River in 2006. Mary Ervig of Annandale monitored Dan’s Lake Outlet at Wright County State Aid Highway 37 for the North Fork Crow River, according to Diane Sander of the CSMP at Buffalo.

Gary Schreifels of Glencoe monitored Buffalo Creek and Jim Hanson of Hutchinson monitored the South Fork Crow River in McLeod County, she said.

Roger Berggren, director of environmental services for McLeod County, monitored the South Fork Crow River at McLeod County Roads 9 and 14, and at Bluff Street in Hutchinson, Sander said.

Alex Krengel of Mayer and John Kronstedt of Watertown monitored the South Fork Crow River in Carver County. Eric Homme of Lake Lillian monitored the South Fork Crow River at Kandiyohi County Road 17, she said.

Homme’s measurements were the most significant of the 2006 monitoring results of the South Fork Crow River. “It carries such low transparency readings, and yet is close to the headwaters of the South Fork, where relatively higher transparency readings could be expected. The CROW plans to investigate this site further in 2007,” Sander said.

In addition, an inlet of Big Kandiyohi Lake had a low average transparency reading, as did Homme’s site near the headwaters, and Krengel’s site in Carver County for two years in a row. This indicates that the South Fork Crow River is impaired, she said.

Volunteers measure five factors of the Crow River, transparency, precipitation, stream stage, appearance, and recreational suitability.

• Transparency is the amount of sediment, algae and other material suspended in the water.

“Transparency values can reliably predict a stream’s turbidity,” Sander said.

Turbidity is the cloudiness or murkiness of the water caused by soil, algae and other suspended particles in the water. The state turbidity standard for the Crow River is 25 nephelometric turbidity units, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

A water body is considered to be in violation of the 25 NTU turbidity standard if a transparency tube reading is less than 20 centimeters. The best reading is 60 cm.

Homme and Krengel both measured 13 cm in transparency consistently in 2005 and 2006 on the South Fork.

“There appears to be significantly higher levels of sediment in the South Fork of the Crow River than in the North Fork,” Sander said.

• Precipitation is measured with a rain gauge and shows how rainfall events affect stream transparency, appearance and stage.

“When a site has a low average transparency, it is important to note if the low readings are consistent throughout the monitoring season, or if they are in response to a high rainfall. In both cases listed above, the readings are consistently low throughout the season,” the 2006 data results summary states.

• Stream stage is how the stream changes in water level. It may occur during a rainfall event, and affect transparency and appearance.

• Appearance is assessed by color, ranging from clear to tea-colored to green and muddy.

• Recreational suitability is a visual assessment of a stream’s suitability for fishing, swimming and boating.

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