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A Monitoring Overview

Contact: Marcy Knoll Wilmes 517-342-4348

Water quality monitoring is fundamental to understanding the environment around us and is an essential component of the Water Resources Division (WRD) mission.  Monitoring tells us the what, where, and when of environmental issues.  Without water quality monitoring, we wouldn’t know what pollutants are in a water body, where you can eat the fish, and when the beaches are safe for swimming.

The WRD operates under a Monitoring Strategy, which guides our monitoring efforts. The four goals of our monitoring have been consistent since the first Strategy was written in 1997 and are:

  • assess the current status and condition of waters of the state and determine whether water quality standards are being met,
  • measure spatial and temporal water quality trends,
  • evaluate the effectiveness of water quality restoration and protection programs, and
  • identify new and emerging water quality problems.

Monitoring elements necessary for a comprehensive assessment of water quality in Michigan’s surface waters guide Michigan’s monitoring program implementation.  These elements have been realigned in the draft 2015 Strategy Update (available soon) to be consistent with current WRD monitoring activities:

  • Water Chemistry
  • Pathogens
  • Biological Condition
  • Fish Contaminants
  • Aquatic Invasive Species
  • Wildlife Contaminants
  • Sediment Chemistry

The WRD monitors the water quality of all Michigan surface waters, including Great Lakes, rivers and streams, inland lakes, and wetlands.  For more information on WRD monitoring activities, descriptions of where to find reports and data, and details of monitoring and resource gaps, please review the Monitoring Strategy located below. 

Water resources in Michigan are everywhere, and monitoring the quality of these resources is vital to ensuring a high quality of life for future generations.  And while the importance of water quality monitoring is unquestionable, as demonstrated with environmental concerns such as harmful algae blooms, bacteria contamination, and fish consumption advisories, a large source of funding designated for water quality monitoring in Michigan is coming to an end.  The year 2017 will be pivotal for the WRD with the final disbursement of Clean Michigan Initiative-Clean Water Fund dollars.  These funds, part of the 1998 Michigan bond to clean up, protect, and enhance environmental quality, natural resources, and infrastructure, have been used to monitor water quality for more than a decade thanks to the citizens of Michigan.  The WRD will need to look at future monitoring resources to maintain the ability to assess the water quality of Michigan’s Great Lakes, rivers and streams, inland lakes, and wetlands.

Related Links

Monitoring Strategy, 2017 Update
Monitoring Strategy, 2005 Update