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:

Become a volunteer water quality monitor

All of our volunteer monitor positions have been filled for the 2020 season. If you would like to join the waiting list to become a volunteer monitor, please contact Luke Wynn for more information: luke.wynn@cleanlakesalliance.org

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?

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 Initiatives Specialist, Luke Wynn, at (608) 255-1000 or volunteer@cleanlakesalliance.org.

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.

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 2019! 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!)

Lynn & Anthony Ascione *
George & Susan Benton *
James & Kathleen Brussock *
Doris Dubielzig *
Robert & Jenifer Gilbert *
Connie Hagen *
G. Michael & Lynn Horn *
Jeffrey & Arlene Koziol*
Carol & Mel McCartney *
Leigh Meier *
Drew Rodysill *

Monica Sitter & Woody Kneppreth *
Michael & Brenda Sherry *
John Shillinglaw *
Kathy & Mino Spada *
Brett & Kim Sprecher *
Jill Storms Ball *
Kirk & Betsy Swenson *
Stephanie Well
C. Anne Wellman
James & Joan Wilcox *

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