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LakeForecast.org brings science to public, public to lakes

MADISON, Wis. – It only takes a couple of visits to your favorite lakeshore hangout to see that lake conditions vary dramatically from day to day. An algal bloom on Monday can give way to crystal clear waters on Tuesday. Even on the same day, water clarity varies from one spot along the shoreline to another. Thanks to a partnership led by the Clean Lakes Alliance, the public now has help determining where to go and when for a day on the lake with access to up-to-date water quality conditions at dozens of sites on lakes Mendota, Monona, Wingra, Waubesa and Kegonsa.

LakeForecast.org, a mobile-ready data hub built for Clean Lakes Alliance by local web development company MIOsoft, seeks to engage residents with user-friendly water quality information and promote beach and lake use. Visitors to the website can easily access status updates—including closures, water temperatures and water clarity—for 24 public beaches, 58 citizen-monitoring sites and the UW-Madison Lake Mendota research buoy. Interactive lake maps and simple search functions make the complex data easy for the public to consume.

“We want to get to the point where, on a daily basis during the summer, we talk about water quality just like we talk about weather or traffic,” said Clean Lakes Alliance Executive Director James Tye. Tye explains that LakeForecast.org provides swimmers, boaters and lake lovers with all the information they need for a great day on the lake in one convenient location.

“Cleaning our lakes is a priority for our community, and accomplishing our shared vision of better waters for the enjoyment of generations to come, will take committed partners and collaboration,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “This new website will help the public be informed about the state of our lakes. Getting the community involved in our efforts will help us clean up our lakes.”

The project was realized in partnership with MIOsoft, the City of Madison, Dane County, and University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Limnology and Space Science and Engineering Center. This first-of-its-kind web application combines observations from a growing network of CLA citizen monitors with regular water quality reports available through the UW-Madison’s Center for Limnology, Public Health Madison & Dane County, and other government agencies and NGOs.

“Our lakes are one of our city’s most incredible assets,” said City of Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. “Having another tool that will allow residents and visitors to enjoy them even more is a really good thing.”

Bookmark LakeForecast.org on your smartphone to access these exciting features at home or on the go. View a short LakeForecast.org video tutorial here.

Exciting features of LakeForecast.org include:

  • View beach closures and openings as they occur
  • Filter beaches by amenity (restrooms, boat landing, life guards, etc.)
  • Track near real-time lake conditions at 50+ near-shore citizen monitoring sites
  • Browse interactive maps to locate nearest beaches or public lake access sites
  • Subscribe to the free Lake-O-Gram e-newsletter for the latest lake news and events

Coming soon:

  • Self-report the conditions of beaches you visit
  • Engage with LakeForecast community members via social platforms
  • Receive alerts about website, beach and lake updates

To support this nonprofit effort, consider becoming a Lake Forecast Steward through a tax-deductible donation of $135, used to train and equip a new citizen monitor for the duration of a sampling season.

Contacts:

James Tye, Executive Director, Clean Lakes Alliance
608-255-1000 (office), 608-628-6655 (mobile), james@cleanlakesalliance.com

Jordan Barrette, MIOsoft, 608-467-0417, jordan.barrette@miosoft.com

Paul Hanson, UW Center for Limnology, pchanson@wisc.edu

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