Lake Water Quality Monitoring

Water Quality Monitoring

Clean Lakes Alliance’s water quality monitoring program was established in 2012, and the first water quality reports were collected in 2013 at 10 nearshore stations. In a few short years, our program has grown tremendously and our trained volunteers now monitor 87 nearshore and 7 offshore sites on all five Madison area lakes.

Our nearshore volunteers gather data on water clarity and temperature, make visual observations on beach conditions, and identify potentially harmful cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms. This information is made readily available to the public in real-time at lakeforecast.org. Information is also viewable through the LakeForecast app, which is available for Apple and Android. LakeForecast shows which beach or lake access point is closest, and which have the best conditions both currently and over time.

Clean Lakes Alliance volunteer monitors also take weekly measurements of water clarity, water temperature, and dissolved oxygen profiles at the deep points of all five lakes. These efforts complement monitoring done by other groups and will allow us to compare water clarity in the middle of the lake with clarity closer to shore.

Child looks through a turbidity tube
Child looks through a turbidity tube

Water quality monitoring is a great way to raise awareness of the opportunities and challenges facing our lakes, while creating meaningful data to be used for research and advocacy. Learn more about the program:

Become a volunteer water quality monitor

We are beginning our search for 2024 volunteer water quality monitors. If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to caitlin@cleanlakesalliance.org.

Off-shore water quality monitoring
Off-shore water quality monitoring

Are you ready to take action on behalf of our lakes? Ever wonder about water quality conditions and trends off your own pier or at your favorite beach?

As a volunteer, you will:

  • Take on the role of a lake scientist
  • Measure real-time, nearshore water quality conditions
  • Help researchers better understand how algal blooms develop and migrate around the lake

Thank you 2023 water quality monitors!

Lake Mendota

  • Rhonda Arries
  • Lynn Ascione
  • George Benton
  • Mathew Chotlos
  • Emily Conklin
  • Bennett Davishoff
  • Doris Dubielzig
  • Jan Eddy
  • Nancy Ellison
  • Friends of UW Lakeshore Nature Reserve
  • Robert Gilbert
  • Bob Gross
  • Mary Hillebrand
  • Andy Ippolito
  • Jerry Jendrisak
  • Sydney Kerstein
  • Arlene and Jeff Koziol
  • Jackie Lanear
  • Jay Larson
  • Peggy Lee
  • Allan Levin
  • Linda Malkin
  • Seth McGee
  • Carol Michalski
  • MJ and Tom Morgan
  • Stephanie Ogborne
  • Raymond Rajala
  • Cole Seckel
  • Kim Sprecher
  • Jacob Stampen
  • Mattie Urrutia
  • Will Vuyk
  • Angela Webster
  • Ian Wegger


  • Allen Arntsen
  • Doug Bach
  • Jill Ball
  • Bob Bertera
  • Carolyn Betz
  • Brittingham Boats
  • Claire Finucane
  • Amie Francisco
  • Rachel Groman
  • Joanne Kaminsky
  • Renee Long
  • Mel McCartney
  • Elaine Meier
  • Joy Newmann
  • Austin Novak
  • Michael Oleniczak
  • Reed Rodenkirch
  • Zak Redding
  • David Schroder
  • Tom Smith
  • Christine Stocke
  • Jan Van Vleck
  • Sam Warfel
  • Amy Wencel
  • Paul Zech

    Lake Wingra
  • Regan Botsford
  • Lisa Grueneberg
  • Jess Hankey
  • Cindy Koschmann
  • Sally Lehner John Nicol

Lake Waubesa

  • Kitty Brussock
  • Cassy Cooley
  • Troy Hibicki
  • Mike Horn
  • Marissa Hueffner
  • Ginny Kominiak
  • Woody Kneppreth
  • Tam Knickmeier
  • John McIntyre
  • Mike Moran
  • Tom Reuschlein
  • Lori Wallman
  • Kimberly Walsh

    Lake Kegonsa
  • Sarah Balz
  • Bill & Amanda Blank
  • John Bottorff
  • George Corrigan
  • Connie Hagen
  • Janice Kellogg
  • Ken LePine
  • Anne Meisner
  • Terry Peterson
  • Claudia and Greg Quam
  • Gary Tapper
  • Peg Stine and  Carl Johnson
  • Kim Van Brocklin
  • Kim & Tom Walz
  • Jim Wilcox

Lake Forecasting Stewards are welcome to join the program at any time and select their sampling site location. As a donor to this program, you’ll cover equipment costs and learn how to test water clarity, identify cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms, and more!


Our monitoring program formed in 2012 under the guidance of University of Wisconsin scientists. Browse the timeline below to see highlights over the years.

● 87 nearshore and 5 offshore monitoring stations covering all five Yahara lakes
● All 25 public beaches monitored at least twice a week
● 90 volunteers contributing 1,910 LakeForecast condition reports
● Algal toxin testing at 10 sites in partnership with UW-Madison Civil & Environmental Engineering
● Partnership with Lake Waubesa Conservation Association to add 4 new monitoring sites
● Partnership with Friends of Lake Kegonsa (FOLKS) to add 3 new monitoring sites
● Volunteer celebration and trivia night at Christy’s Landing

• 87 nearshore and 7 offshore monitoring stations covering all five Yahara lakes
• All 25 public beaches monitored at least twice a week
• 96 volunteers contributing 2,094 LakeForecast condition reports
• Algal toxin testing at 7 sites in partnership with UW-Engineering
• Partnership with BloomOptix to pilot rapid cyanobacteria detection using digital microscopes
• Partnership with Friends of Lake Kegonsa Society (FOLKS) to add 6 new monitoring sites
• Volunteer appreciation night at Christy’s Landing

  • 77 nearshore monitoring stations including all 25 public beaches and 7 offshore sites
  • Program record of 101 volunteer water quality monitors
  • In partnership with the UW-Madison Water Systems & Society Research Group, 7 volunteers measured microcystin (algal toxin) concentrations throughout the summer
  • Clean Lakes Alliance participated in a global collaboration with BloomOptix to collect microscopic images of algae and cyanobacteria cells to pilot a rapid identification method
  • 2,105 water quality condition reports taken throughout the 2021 monitoring season

  • 71 nearshore monitoring stations including all 25 public beaches; 7 offshore sites
  • Performed algal toxin (microcystin) testing at six public beaches in partnership with UW-Engineering
  • LakeForecast featured weekly on Channel 3000 in new partnership to report water quality conditions on local television
  • 2,294 water quality condition reports taken throughout the 2020 monitoring season

  • 71 nearshore monitoring stations including all 25 public beaches; 7 offshore sites
  • Continued microcystin testing at James Madison Park, in partnership with UW-Engineering
  • 2,005 water quality condition reports taken throughout the 2019 monitoring season

  • 79 nearshore monitoring stations including all 25 public beaches; 7 offshore sites
  • E. coli bacteria and microcystin cyanobacteria toxin sampling pilots launched 

  • 62 nearshore monitoring stations, 7 offshore sites
  • 1,258 data reports

  • 72 nearshore monitoring stations, 7 offshore sites
  • 1,258 data reports

  • 58 nearshore monitoring stations
  • 1,258 data reports

  • Launched lakeforecast.org mobile-ready website
  • 46 nearshore monitoring stations
  • 945 data reports

  • Citizen monitoring pilot launched first year
  • E. coli bacteria testing at James Madison Park beach
  • 10 nearshore monitoring stations
  • 204 data reports

  • Citizen monitoring task force formed
  • Program designed under leadership of Jon Standridge (retired Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene) and Dr. Dick Lathrop (retired WDNR & Center for Limnology)

Thank you to our volunteers and partners for their continued efforts!


City of Madison
City of Monona
Dane County
Public Health – Madison & Dane County
UW-Madison Center for Limnology
UW-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center
UW-Madison Morgridge Center for Public Service
Madison Boats
National Science Foundation Long Term Ecological Research
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Lake Forecasting Stewards

A special thanks to the donors who were Lake Forecasting Stewards in 2023! Through your support, we are able to cover equipment costs to help support and expand the program. Become a Lake Forecasting Steward today.  (Donors denoted with asterisks are also volunteer monitors!)

Joanne Abler-Kaminsky & Ron Kaminsky *
Henry A. Anderson
Allen & Claire Arntsen *
Lynn & Anthony Ascione *
Jill Ball *
Robert & Jill Bertera *
Kitty & James Brussock *
Joe Campshure & Terri Lefebvre
Valerie & Drew Cathers
Ryan & Elizabeth Fields
Yvonne & James Gern
Robert & Jenifer Gilbert *
Troy Hibicki *

G. Michael & Lynne Horn *
Leigh Meier *
Carol & Phil Michalski *
Michael & Lorrie Moran *
Joy Newmann *
Kim & Brett Sprecher *
Jacob & Karen Stampen *
Olivia & Kyle Vjorn
James & Joan Wilcox *
Forever Home Real Estate
Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve *
Lake Waubesa Conservation Association *

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