Lake Water Quality Monitoring

Water Quality Monitoring

Clean Lakes Alliance’s citizen 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. By visiting this easy-to-use mobile-ready website, you can see which beach or lake access point is closest, and which have the best conditions both currently and over time.

Clean Lakes Alliance citizen 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

Citizen 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:

Call for volunteers

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? A limited number of openings are available for those who want to join this popular and highly successful nearshore monitoring program.

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

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

If you are interested in becoming a water quality monitoring volunteer, please contact our Watershed Program Associate, Luke Wynn, at (608) 255-1000 or volunteer@cleanlakesalliance.org.

All of our targeted monitoring sites are currently filled. 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!

Background

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

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

Partners

City of Madison
City of Monona
Dane County
5Nines
MIOsoft
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 2018! 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!)

Allen & Claire Arntsen *
Lynn & Anthony Ascione *
Joseph Baldazzi & Sarah Balz *
George & Susan Benton *
James & Kathleen Brussock *
Julie & Steve Byrnes *
Kathy & Richard Carl *
Jim & Maria Fitzpatrick
Robert & Jenifer Gilbert *
Danielle Gindlesberger
Steve & Susan Gordon
Laura Graham *
G. Michael Horn *
Andrew Jones
Woody Kneppreth *
Cynthia Koschmann *
William Lamm & Connie Hagen *

Joe Campshure & Terri Lefebvre *
Linda & Mark Malkin *
Leigh Meier *
David Mikolajczyk *
John Nicol *
Paul & Nancy Peckham *
Nicole Riedel *
Craig Shelton
Kathy & Mino Spada *
Brett & Kim Sprecher *
Jacob & Karen Stampen *
Jill Storms Ball *
Kirk & Betsy Swenson *
Jon & Kim Van Brocklin *
Janet & Michael Van Vleck *
Wendy Walker
James & Joan Wilcox *