Citizen Lake Monitoring Program
Because lakes are so central to Minnesota's economy and way of life, it is imperative that we try to maintain and improve the quality of water in our state's lakes. The Citizen Lake-Monitoring Program (CLMP) requires only minimal volunteer time, yet it provides what is essential for achieving these goals.
Video: Citizen Water Testers in Action
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The MPCA's network of 1,400 volunteers across the state are making a difference in protecting our state's lakes and streams. Could you be our next volunteer?
The CLMP is a cooperative program combining the technical resources of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the volunteer efforts of citizens statewide who collect water-quality data on their lakes.
The program greatly multiplies the MPCA's water-quality sampling capabilities, while volunteers learn about the water quality of lakes in their region and the causes and effects of lake pollution.
CLMP volunteers collect water transparency data using an 8-inch, circular, all-white metal plate attached to a calibrated rope. This tool is called a Secchi disk. About once a week during the summer, volunteers boat to a designated spot on their lakes to collect transparency readings. The volunteer lowers the disk into the water until it is no longer visible and notes that depth from the markings on the rope. The disk is then lowered a little further and then raised back up until it is just visible. This second depth reading is averaged with the first, and the final number is recorded on a data sheet. At the end of summer, volunteers send their data sheets to the MPCA to be compiled with other water-quality data.
To find out more about the program and what volunteer lake-monitors do, check out our monitoring handbook.
Water transparency is a quick and easy measurement that tells scientists a lot about a lake's water quality. First it indicates the amount of light penetration into a lake. Second, Secchi transparency provides an indirect measure of the amount of suspended material in the water, which in many cases is an indication of the amount of algae in the water.
Long-term transparency monitoring by CLMP volunteers helps scientists detect signs of degradation to a lake. Generally, the sooner water-quality problems are detected, the easier and less expensive it is to restore the lake to its previous state.
Any person or group willing to devote a small amount of time and energy to conduct simple water-quality checks on a regular basis can become a volunteer monitor. This includes anyone who lives on or near a lake or is a frequent user of a particular lake. The only restriction is that volunteers need to have access to a boat or canoe in order to take the transparency readings.
Volunteers will receive data sheets, instructions for assembling and using the disk, a copy of the annual report on water quality of lakes in their region, and current CLMP newsletters. If you are interested in becoming a CLMP volunteer, use our CLMP Volunteer Sign Up or contact the MPCA at 651-296-6300 (Twin Cities metro) or 800-657-3864 (Greater MN only), email@example.com. NOTE: The MPCA reserves the right to limit the quantity of disks to any individual, group or organization.
Over the years, many of you have asked to submit your Secchi readings electronically, rather than mail in your paper datasheet. Now the opportunity is here! The new electronic datasheet is a Microsoft Excel document, and will include completion and submittal instructions. If you decide to use the electronic datasheet, you will not need to send in your paper datasheet. Submit your electronic datasheet by October 31, 2012. If you have any questions about the new electronic datasheet, please contact Louise Hotka at 651-757-2450, toll-free at 800-657-3864 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- CLMP Electronic Datasheet — Note: If you sample more than one site, fill out and submit one Excel document for each lake site.
If you need additional information or assistance, please contact: Louise Hotka at 800-657-3864 (Greater Minn.), 651-296-6300 (Twin Cities Metro Area), email email@example.com or by mail at: Citizen Lake Monitoring Program, MPCA, 520 Lafayette Rd. N., St. Paul, MN 55155.
- Minnesota Lake Finder — Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
- The Secchi Dip-In
- Wisconsin Citizen Lake Monitoring Program
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Water Volunteer Monitoring Data and Tools
- Find out the Latest Lake News from Minnesota Sea Grant