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 72 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 2022 volunteer water quality monitors. If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to luke.wynn@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 2021 water quality monitors!

  • Dave Appleby
  • Allen Arntsen
  • Rhonda Arries
  • Lynn Ascione
  • Doug Bach
  • Jill Ball
  • Sarah Balz
  • Lori Beierle
  • George Benton
  • Bob Bertera
  • Carolyn Betz
  • Brittingham Boats
  • Kari Brock
  • Kitty Brussock
  • Elsa Caetano
  • Lachlan Canavan
  • Eric Christenson
  • Cassy Cooley
  • Jim Cordray
  • Celeste Dailey
  • Doris Dubielzig
  • Bassirou Doumbya
  • Nancy Ellison
  • Kaelin Fontaine
  • Amie Francisco
  • Clara Frazier
  • Dane Gallagher
  • Robert Gilbert
  • Mirelle Goetz
  • Steve Gordon
  • Jenny Grimes
  • Rachel Groman
  • Bob Gross
  • Lisa Grueneberg
  • Connie Hagen
  • Vanessa Haggerty
  • Ethan Hallick
  • Paul Hendrickson
  • Mary Hillebrand
  • Mike Horn
  • Jerry Jendrisak
  • Mark Jung
  • Chris Keale
  • Woody Kneppreth
  • Cindy Koschmann
  • Arlene and Jeff Koziol
  • Iris Kurman
  • Dea Larsen Converse
  • Jay Larson
  • Tim Lechmaier
  • Peggy and Dan Lee
  • Terri Lefebvre & Joe Campshure
  • Angie Lent
  • Brynn Leonard
  • Allan Levin
  • Linda Malkin
  • Mathew Chotlos
  • Mel McCartney
  • Seth McGee
  • Sarah McMillan
  • Elaine Meier
  • Carol Michalski
  • Dave Mikolajczyk
  • Robert Montgomery
  • MJ and Tom Morgan
  • Rodrigo Mouret
  • Joy Newmann
  • John Nicol
  • Michael Oleniczak
  • Olympia Mathiaparanam
  • Dick Pearson
  • Greg Quam
  • Zak Redding
  • Kathryn Rindy
  • James Rollins
  • David Schroder
  • Cole Seckel
  • Claire Shepley
  • Grace Sherrill
  • Tom Smith
  • Isabel Smith
  • Kim Sprecher
  • Jacob Stampen
  • Sarah Stankey
  • Jeff Steele
  • Marina Steiner
  • Aleen Tierney
  • Madalynn Timm
  • John Tye
  • Kim Van Brocklin
  • Jan Van Vleck
  • Will Vukk
  • Dick Wallace
  • Ken Walz
  • Sam Warfel
  • Haoran Wei
  • Amy Wencel
  • Jim Wilcox
  • Gwen Eudy
  • Madison Wynn

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.

  • 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 2020! 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!)

George & Susan Benton *
James & Kathleen Brussock *
Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve *
Lloyd Eagan
Ryan & Mary Gallagher
Robert & Jenifer Gilbert
G. Michael & Lynne Horn *
Jeffrey & Arlene Koziol *
Joe Campshure & Terri Lefebvre *

Linda & Mark Malkin *
Leigh Meier *
Dick & Noel Pearson *
Drew Rodysill
Brett & Kim Sprecher *
Jacob & Karen Stampen *
Jill Storms Ball *
Kirk & Betsy Swenson *
James & Joan Wilcox *

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