Citizen scientists and the 2017 monitoring season

Water Quality Monitoring

2017 monitoring season

What started in 2013 as a handful of Clean Lakes Alliance board members testing the water has now grown into a network of over 70 volunteers doing weekly water quality monitoring on all five lakes.

Each week this summer, our team of monitors gathered data on water clarity and temperature. They also made visual observations on beach conditions and identified potentially harmful cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms. And what a summer it was!

Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) bloom at a pier near Maple Bluff. 2017 monitoring season.
Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) bloom at a pier near Maple Bluff, June 2017

Spotlight on cyanobacteria blooms

In 2017, Madison saw multiple days in which cyanobacteria blooms affected large sections of our lakes. Citizen monitors were able to identify these blooms. This allowed lakeforecast.org to report the affected areas. The improved monitoring network helped Clean Lakes Alliance send alerts on social media and by email to keep people in the community aware and safe.

With the increased monitoring around the lakes came increased attention from users – and the media. Throughout the summer Clean Lakes Alliance staff and citizen monitors were featured in news stories related to cyanobacteria blooms and other lake related issues. The increased attention helped drive more traffic to lakeforecast.org. As a result, more people were informed about lake conditions and became involved in our mission.

We also took a unique approach to sharing lake conditions on social media through the humorous Weekend Lake Reports. These two-minute videos, seen by 2,500 to 7,500 people each week, gave tips on the best spots on the lakes for the weekend. Adam Sodersten, Clean Lakes Alliance’s Director of Marketing and Development, is up for Madison Magazine’s best of Madison social media personality! You can vote for Adam through October 15th, 2017.

Water Quality Monitoring
Water quality monitor uses a turbidity tube to test the clarity of the lake water

Plans for the future

Looking ahead to 2018, we intend to grow our monitoring program to increase monitoring at our beaches, and increase sampling throughout the week. The data collected not only helps lake users, but also will allow scientists to forecast long-range lake conditions.

Madison is a leader in so many respects. Our citizen scientists are helping us lead in providing lake information to the public. The more information we can continue to deliver, the more confidence people will have using our lakes. In turn, lake health will be a top priority for everybody.

Share it on