Stream Flow Monitoring

Quick Facts

Source: 
Clean Water Fund
Status: 
In Progress
Activity Type: 
Digitization/Online Information Access, Assessment/Evaluation, Monitoring
Counties Affected 
Statewide
Stream flow information are essential for understanding the state of Minnesota's waters. Clean water funding has allowed DNR to expand a network of stream gages that support planning and implementation for clean water protection and restoration. These gages are also used as part of the an interagency Flood Forecasting/Warning System.

Funds are used to install/upgrade and calibrate stream gages and to collect, compile, analyze and distribute data collected at gage stations. The Cooperative Stream Gaging Website provides a portal for agencies and the public to see stream flow data, site photos, water quality information and links to other information. In addition, a Monthly Hydrologic Conditions Report provides general trend information on water resources using climatic data, lake and river gages, and groundwater monitoring information.

The stream flow information collected from these gage stations is used by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and local watershed organizations to determine the health of a water resource. Specifically, stream flow data are needed to calculate pollution loads for Total Maximum Daily Load studies and pollution reduction plans. They are also used to evaluate trends in base flow conditions, determine the frequency and magnitude of floods and low flows, assist in assessing changes in land use and watershed conditions and the potential affects of climate change.

Through the Legacy Amendment the DNR will continue to maintain at least one stream gage each of the 81 major watersheds to provide water quantity information in support of the State’s long term water quality trend monitoring efforts.

About the Issue

Water constantly moves among air, lakes, streams, soil, and aquifers. Natural and human alterations of this cycle can result in problems such as rapid runoff, high lake levels, altered subsurface water levels, and changes in water supply. A quality hydrologic monitoring network informs decision-making that fosters a healthy economy, environment, and communities. More accurate and timely data improve flood warning and response, water supply management, clean water, and many other decisions that affect quality of life in Minnesota.
Status: 
In Progress
Start Date: 
July 2009

Project Details by Fiscal Year

Fiscal Year(s): 
2014
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2013, Chp. 137, Art. 2, Sec. 6(a)
Appropriation Language 
$2,000,000 the first year and $2,000,000 the second year are for stream flow monitoring, including the installation of additional monitoring gauges, and monitoring necessary to determine the relationship between stream flow and groundwater.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$2,000,000
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
17.0
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY14, DNR will continue to grow the stream monitoring network by adding 30 new gages. Scientists will collect 1,000 stream flow measurements and compile 130 records for continuous real time gage sites for use in statewide assessment of Minnesota's major watersheds. DNR will also contract with the USGS to collect sediment in streams at 20 sites to assess bedload sediment transport.
Fiscal Year(s): 
2013
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2011, First Special Session, Chp. 6, Art. 2, Sec. 6(a)
Appropriation Language 
$1,825,000 the first year and $1,825,000 the second year are for the continuation and expansion of stream flow monitoring.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$1,825,000
Direct expenses: 
$1,407,259
Administration costs: 
$172,634
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
8.0
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY13, DNR will continue to grow the stream monitoring network by adding 20 new gages. Scientists will collect 1080 stream flow measurements and compile 150 records for continuous real time gage sites for use in statewide assessment of Minnesota's major watersheds.
Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY13, DNR scientists installed or upgraded 19 new gages to continue establishing and maintaining a stream gage network that takes automated, continuous measurements at sites across the state. All of these sites now have telemetry equipment to access real-time data remotely.

Field staff collected 710 stream flow measurements to calibrate stream gages for use in statewide assessment of Minnesota's major watersheds. Hydrologists compiled 116 annual daily flow quantity records for DNR - operated permanent gage locations for use in statewide assessment of Minnesota's major watersheds. DNR also contracted with the USGS to collect 127 samples of sediment in streams to assess bedload sediment transport. The number of records and samples is significantly smaller than proposed because of a drought that caused low or zero flow conditions.

This work is done in cooperation with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; stream flow data are used to determine pollutant loading for establishment of impaired waters.
Fiscal Year(s): 
2012
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2011, First Special Session, Chp. 6, Art. 2, Sec. 6(a)
Appropriation Language 
$1,825,000 the first year and $1,825,000 the second year are for the continuation and expansion of stream flow monitoring.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$1,825,000
Direct expenses: 
$973,186
Administration costs: 
$263,700
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
6.0
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY12, DNR will continue to grow the stream monitoring network by adding 22 new gages. An additional 330 stream flow measurements will be collected, 30 records will be compiled for continuous real time gage sites for use in statewide assessment of Minnesota's major watersheds.

This work is done in cooperation with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; stream flow data are used to determine pollutant loading for establishment of impaired waters. DNR will also coordinate with MPCA’s lake monitoring to install lake level gages on priority lakes, and continue to ensure stream gage and flow measurement data are available for critical flood forecasting if needed.
Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY12, DNR scientists installed 8 new gages to continue establishing and maintaining a stream gage network that takes automated, continuous measurements at sites across the state. Some of these sites have telemetry equipment to access real-time data remotely. Field staff collected 919 stream flow measurements to calibrate stream gages for use in statewide assessment of Minnesota's major watersheds and compiled 131 annual daily flow quantity records for DNR - operated permanent gage locations for use in statewide assessment of Minnesota's major watersheds.
Fiscal Year(s): 
2011
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2009, Chp. 172, Art. 2, Sec. 5(a)
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$865,000
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY12, DNR will continue to grow the stream monitoring network by adding 22 new gages. An additional 330 stream flow measurements will be collected, 30 records will be compiled for continuous real time gage sites for use in statewide assessment of Minnesota's major watersheds.
Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY11, DNR scientists installed 2 new gages to continue establishing and maintaining a stream gage network to allow automated, continuous measurements to be taken at sites across the state. Some of these sites have telemetry equipment to access real-time data remotely. This is in addition to the 4 new gages and 4 upgraded gages installed in FY10.

Field staff collected 334 stream flow measurements to calibrate stream gages for use in statewide assessment of Minnesota's major watersheds and compiled 30 annual daily flow quantity records for DNR - operated permanent gage locations for use in statewide assessment of Minnesota's major watersheds. In FY10, field staff collected 323 stream flow measurements and compiled 28 annual daily flow quantity records.

This work is done in cooperation with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; stream flow data are used to determine pollutant loading for establishment of impaired waters.
Fiscal Year(s): 
2010
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2009, Chp. 172, Art. 2, Sec. 5(a)
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$645,000
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
* Maintain existing network of 65 stream gages used for TMDL studies

* Install, calibrate stream 11 new streamflow gages with satellite telemetry for real time data access
* Hydrology/hydraulic analysis of lake outlets at 10 lakes to support TMDL work
* Develop interagency Monitoring Plan for surface and groundwater
Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY 10, DNR scientists installed 4 new gages and upgraded 4 gages in a stream gage network to allow automated, continuous measurements to be taken across the state.

Field staff collected 323 stream flow measurements to calibrate stream gages for use in statewide assessment of Minnesota's major watersheds and compiled 28 annual daily flow quantity records for DNR - operated permanent gage locations for use in statewide assessment of Minnesota's major watersheds.

This work is done in cooperation with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; stream flow data are used to determine pollutant loading for establishment of impaired waters.

Project Manager

Greg
Kruse
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN
55155
651-259-5686