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Citizen Lake Monitoring Network

How to Get Involved

Volunteer lake monitors have been an integral part of the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership since 1986. 
Learn more about your lake,
Collect valuable data,
Watch for long-term changes in lake water quality.
Join over 1,000 volunteers now participating statewide in water quality monitoring.  The Department of Natural Resources and University of Wisconsin-Extension provides training and equipment, while citizens volunteer their time and energy.  The assistance and enthusiasm of local volunteers play an important part in lake monitoring and protection.

Water Clarity Monitoring

Volunteers observe and document lake water quality by measuring water clarity with a Secchi disc. The 8-inch diameter black and white disc is lowered into the water on a rope until it can no longer be seen, then this depth is recorded. You can track your lake’s clarity over time, and if problems are detected, action can then be taken.


Water Chemistry Monitoring

After a year of water clarity monitoring some volunteers begin water chemistry monitoring. These citizen monitors sample four to five times a year for clarity, phosphorus, chlorophyll, and lake temperature. With this information the trophic state (overall health) of your lake can be measured more reliably. Some chemistry monitors also take a dissolved oxygen profile of their lake. Openings for chemistry monitoring are limited and depend on the interest of the volunteers and the needs of the lake.  


Aquatic Plant Monitoring

Aquatic plants are another indicator of lake health and are an essential part of a healthy lake ecosystem. Volunteers are trained to collect and press their lake’s aquatic plants. Materials are provided to help identify aquatic plants and to help the observer map the location and size of plant beds.


Aquatic Invasives Species Monitoring

Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussel, and purple loosestrife are a few of the invasive species threatening Wisconsin lakes.  Education and early detection of these non-native aquatic species are the keys to control. Volunteers learn to identify these invasive species and are the eyes for water biologists to monitor Wisconsin's 15,081 lakes.

Clean Boats, Clean Waters Watercraft Inspectors 

Volunteers can also help stop the spread of invasives species across the state by becoming involved in the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program.  Volunteers are trained to organize and conduct watercraft inspections at the boat landings in their communities.  Trained volunteers then educate boaters on how and where invasive species are most likely to hitch a ride into water bodies.  By performing boat and trailers checks, distributing informational brochures, collecting and reporting suspect specimens, volunteers can make a difference in helping to prevent the spread of invasive species. Workshop Schedule


The Institute seminars are designed to stretch the minds of people.  Explore new ideas about lakes and the management of human use of lakes.  The Institute also seeks to develop networks to share experiences and to encourage participants to learn from each other.  The core curriculum is delivered every other year.


LoonWatch promotes the preservation, understanding, and enjoyment of common loons and their aquatic habitats in the Lake Superior region.  LoonWatch distributes information to lake residents, users, managers, and the general public about loons, aquatic ecosystems, and environmental threats.
For more information contact 
UWEX Lakes at
Or go to
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources site