WEAL has been providing the Lake Water Quality Program to organizations or individuals interested in the water quality of their lakes. Since 1984 145 lakes have been involved in this program. We provide two analytical programs to evaluate long-term changes in water quality.

Program benefits are useful for explaining:

  • The present status of the lake.
  • Whether water quality is changing, this requires long-term monitoring.
  • Unusual abundance or lack of algae and/or rooted aquatic plants.
  • Fish kills.
  • Changes in water clarity

Spring and Fall Overturn

These data could be supplemented by additional monitoring done by lake residents that would make the interpretation of data more complete.
Samples are collected twice per year by program participants: once during spring overturn, the other during fall overturn. This timing ensures the greatest uniformity of water quality throughout the lake. We will perform analyses and provide a data summary. All data is stored on our computer to maintain long-term records for each lake. Participants are provided sample bottles, shipping cartons, and sampling instructions prior to each sampling date.
Package A Package B
The analyses in this package gives you the basic chemistry of your lake, including the mineralogy and nutrient content. Analytes in this package would affect the plant growth within the lake, which may be an indication of land use runoff. This package is recommended after running Package A for at least two years.
ammonium nitrogen
calcium hardness
nitrate + nitrite (N)
reactive phosphorus
total hardness
total Kjeldahl nitrogen
total phosphorus
ammonium nitrogen
nitrate + nitrite (N)
reactive phosphorus
total Kjeldahl nitrogen
total phosphorus
Additional analyses are available upon request.  

Additional Recommendations

In addition to the water chemistry, we recommend that participants take:
Weekly Secchi disc readings during the summer to document changes in light penetration due to algae growth or other suspended matter.
Weekly readings of water level; these changes can affect water quality.
Measurements of oxygen and temperature, along with depth (during late summer and late winter).
We also encourage participating in the DNRs Self-Help Monitoring Program which help residents understand their lakes water quality conditions.

Data Report

The data report sent to the participants include current and previous data so variability and trends can be seen. The extension bulletin Interpreting Lake Water Quality is useful in helping lake residents interpret results from this program. One or two years of data are often not sufficient to characterize a lake.
The database generated by this program may also be useful for graduate students, staff, and local or state professionals who are interested in lake water quality.
With lake participant's consent, results can be added to the DNR statewide database website called Surface Water Integrated Monitoring Systems (SWIMS). 


If you have any questions about this program contact 715-346-3209 or email weal@uwsp.edu.  

Links to other lake related sites in Wisconsin:

Citizen Lake Monitoring Network