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Connecticut Lake Watch

Community-Based Lake and Pond Water Quality Monitoring

Image of a secchi disk being lowered from a boat in order to measure water clarity in a lake.The Connecticut Lake Watch network is a statewide volunteer (i.e., community science) water quality monitoring program coordinated by DEEP as part of the larger Connecticut Volunteer Water Monitoring Program. Connecticut Lake Watch participants are trained to monitor lake/pond water clarity using a secchi disk. Monitoring typically occurs weekly between May and September. In addition, volunteers are trained to identify and report algal blooms that could lead unsafe recreation conditions.

The data collected can be used to guide local lake management efforts, inform CT DEEP water quality assessments, and evaluate trends in lake and water quality statewide over time. 
   

Program Materials
Field Materials
Training Resources
Data Submission and Management
Frequently Asked Questions
An individual lowers a secchi disk from the side of a boat to measure lake water clarity.Who can use the Connecticut Lake Watch protocols to monitor?

Any individual can be certified to use the Connecticut Lake Watch protocol to monitor water clarity on Connecticut lakes and ponds. However, individuals who live on or regularly recreate on a particular like are ideal Lake Watch volunteers.

CT DEEP is also interested in partnering with interested lake associations in Connecticut that have an existing water quality monitoring program or associations that would like to establish a new monitoring program.  If you would like to join CT Lake Watch please complete and submit the general interest form.

When do volunteers monitor?

Trained Connecticut Lake Watch volunteers are asked to monitor their designated lake site(s) weekly between May and September. Monitoring ideally will occur during mid-day. Some volunteers choose to continue to monitor secchi depth during October through April, but this is not required.

Do volunteers need to have previous experience monitoring lakes?

No, although helpful, no prior monitoring experience is necessary. All new Lake Watch volunteers are required to complete a CT DEEP-led training to review proper field protocols and data submission guidelines. During initial basic training volunteers are taught how to take a secchi disk depth reading and how to submit their data to the Lake Observer database.

What equipment is needed to participate?

A secchi kit on a dock.Connecticut Lake Watch participants are responsible for purchasing their own equipment. To get started, a waterproof camera and a black-and-white secchi disk and calibrated line are needed, along with basic materials such as a field notebook or clipboard.Secchi disks can vary in cost depending on size and quality but a group should expect to spend anywhere from $50-100 on a disk. A waterproof digital camera typically costs between $100-400 depending on the quality purchased. Well-maintained equipment can be used to monitor a site for many years after purchase.

In addition, since measurements are typically taken at the deepest part of the lake or pond, a boat with a life preserver and anchor is needed. (Power boats are not required; a kayak or canoe can be used on most waterbodies.)

The DEEP Volunteer Water Monitoring Program has several secchi disk kits available for annual loan. To reserve a kit please contact the Volunteer Water Monitoring Coordinator

My lake group already has collected several years of lake data, is DEEP interested in this information?

Yes! CT DEEP is very interested in any available historic lake and pond water quality data. Please contact the Volunteer Water Monitoring Coordinator to discuss further.
  

A screenshot of the Lake Observer mobile app secchi depth data entry screen.Data Availability

Data collected by Lake Watch volunteers are uploaded directly by volunteers to the Lake Observer Database using an app. 

Once data are uploaded, Lake Observer allows any individual to view and download volunteer lake monitoring data from throughout the United States.

If you are interested in exploring Connecticut volunteer lake data, select “Connecticut Lake Watch” from the Lake Observer project drop-down menu and then select “Search” at the bottom of the page. (If you use the data for a project, we would love to know about it!)
   

Related DEEP Pages
Other Resources

 

For More Information Contact:

Volunteer Water Monitoring Program Coordinator
DEEP.VolunteerWaterMonitoring@ct.gov 



Content last updated April 28, 2021.