Integrating sentinel watershed-systems into the monitoring and assessment of Minnesota's (USA) waters quality

J. A. Magner, K. N. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires States and Tribes to list waters not meeting water quality standards. A total maximum daily load must be prepared for waters identified as impaired with respect to water quality standards. Historically, the management of pollution in Minnesota has been focused on point-source regulation. Regulatory effort in Minnesota has improved water quality over the last three decades. Non-point source pollution has become the largest driver of conventional 303(d) listings in the 21st century. Conventional pollutants, i.e., organic, sediment and nutrient imbalances can be identified with poor land use management practices. However, the cause and effect relationship can be elusive because of natural watershed-system influences that vary with scale. Elucidation is complex because the current water quality standards in Minnesota were designed to work best with water quality permits to control point sources of pollution. This paper presents a sentinel watershed-systems approach (SWSA) to the monitoring and assessment of Minnesota waterbodies. SWSA integrates physical, chemical, and biological data over space and time using advanced technologies at selected small watersheds across Minnesota to potentially improve understanding of natural and anthropogenic watershed processes and the management of point and non-point sources of pollution. Long-term, state-of-the-art monitoring and assessment is needed to advance and improve water quality standards. Advanced water quality or ecologically-based standards that integrate physical, chemical, and biological numeric criteria offer the potential to better understand, manage, protect, and restore Minnesota's waterbodies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-158
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Mar 2008

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Assessment and management
  • Scale
  • TMDL
  • Water quality standards
  • Watershed monitoring


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