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State agency needs volunteers to record ice conditions, water quality

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is seeking help from Minnesotans across the state – especially if they live on or near a lake – to mark the date ice leaves the lake, and to make weekly checks all summer long on lake and river water quality.

The agency is asking people to volunteer lake ice-out information – the date and time at which the lake becomes ice-free. The PCA then passes that information on the State Climatology Office, where it becomes part of a long running historical record.

Lake ice-off is an important milestone for the state each year, particularly for anglers and water enthusiasts who’ve been waiting all winter to launch their crafts on open water again. But lake ice data, the dates of both its appearance and disappearance, also are an indicator of changing climate trends.

     The PCA defines ice-off as the date when ice is essentially gone from the lake. If there is some ice pushed up on shore, but the water is ice-free, the ice is considered to be out. The most important thing is for the observer to document their own perception of ice-off for the lake in question and use consistent criteria from year to year.

All ice-off dates, any clarifying definitions and questions can be emailed directly to the PCA’s ice data collection program at

      The PCA is also looking for volunteers to help track water quality changes in lakes and streams across the state. More than 1,300 Minnesotans volunteer to track the health of their favorite lake or stream through the Citizen Lake and Citizen Stream Monitoring Programs, but more volunteers are still needed.

Volunteers are asked to perform a short and simple test at their designated lake or stream once per week throughout the summer. Equipment and training are provided by the MPCA.

To become a volunteer or learn more about the program, visit the PCA’s website or call (800) 657-3864.