The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is looking for volunteers, nearly 700 of them, to measure water quality across many of the state's lakes and rivers.

The PCA, which is tasked with both monitoring and protecting the state's 12,000 lakes and 92,000 miles of streams, this year is asking for volunteers to monitor 676 high priority sites on rivers and lakes, including many in the Northland.

Data gathered by volunteers is reported back to the agency and used to track the health of waterways.

PCA Citizen Water Monitoring volunteers do a simple water clarity test twice a month during the summer. Lake monitors boat to a designated spot to check water clarity. Stream monitors perform their test from the streambank or from a bridge over the stream. The PCA provides free equipment and training and no prior experience is needed.

Data gathered by volunteers extends the agency's reach and complements the PCA's intensive water monitoring around the state. In some cases, the information gathered by volunteers is the only monitoring done on a specific lake or stream.

"Our volunteers allow us to get more coverage by collecting water quality data in more places,'' noted Katrina Kessler, PCA assistant commissioner for water.

For more information or to sign up go to or call 800-657-3864.