You may have noticed the measuring sticks in Duluth streams in recent years, often near bridges, but maybe didn’t take time to stop. Now the folks at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute want you to help monitor Duluth streams by reporting current water levels when you pass.

With so many streams to study around Lake Superior — and not enough money, time or staff to get to every spot — scientists have turned to citizens to help report water levels using their mobile phones.

They have made the job very easy: All you have to do is check the gauge in the stream and then text the gauge ID and stream height to the designated phone number. Data is maintained through an open-source platform called Social.Water and is available online for anyone to view or download at

The Duluth area has 19 gauges installed — they look like big rulers or measuring sticks jutting out of the water — along 10 streams and rivers. Fifteen gauges are within the city of Duluth, one gauge is in Proctor, one in Hermantown and one in Rice Lake. There’s also a gauge on the border of Normanna and Lakewood townships. You can find the locations at They are all part of the effort. There’s no limit to how many people can be involved or send data. The more, the better.

Researchers and resources managers use these data to understand how streams respond to weather and climate. This information can help scientists and researchers build better scenario models, as well as help managers and planners make better informed decisions.

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New this year at Mission Creek and Hartley Pond in Duluth, researchers want you to take a photo of a specific spot and upload it to another crowdsourced program called The app that collects the images into time lapse scenes to observe changes through the seasons.