Florida LAKEWATCH is a citizen volunteer lake monitoring program that facilitates "hands-on" citizen participation in the management of Florida lakes, rivers and coastal sites through monthly monitoring activities.
Florida's Lake Regions
Coordinated through the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences/SFRC Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, the program has been in existence since 1986. In 1991, the Florida Legislature recognized the importance of the program and established Florida LAKEWATCH in the state statutes (Florida Statute 1004.49.). LAKEWATCH is now one of the largest lake monitoring programs in the nation with over 1800 trained citizens monitoring 600+ lakes, rivers and coastal sites in more than 40 counties. Volunteers take samples to collection sites located in 38 counties.
Florida LAKEWATCH publishes a newsletter several times each year (newsletter) and a variety of aquatic-related informational circulars (circulars) in pdf format which can be downloaded. Bathymetric maps have been produced of many of the lakes and can be downloaded for your use (maps). Lakewatch water chemistry data are available for downloading by County (data). Contact us if you would like to be a volunteer citizen lake monitor (volunteers).
Why do we need LAKEWATCH?
Florida has over 7700 lakes larger than 10 acres and probably more than 100,000 smaller bodies of water. Detailed scientific information exists for less than 10% of these lakes. Consequently, before LAKEWATCH, researchers and government agencies charged with managing the lakes had limited data on which to base their strategies. Florida LAKEWATCH enabled the public to be involved in a cooperative teamwork approach to solving lake quality problems, vastly increasing the amount of data generated each year. The information generated from this program is made available to anyone who wants it, including the volunteers themselves, other interested citizens, lake management groups, schools, as well as government and regulatory agencies. Most of the lakes accepted into the program had never been monitored before.
Florida LAKEWATCH provides citizens with educational material to foster a better understanding of Florida lakes, which is essential for developing effective lake management plans. LAKEWATCH staff produce and make available bathymetric maps of many lakes, circulars on many lake-related topics, and send or post online newsletters several times each year. Water chemistry monitoring data are available for downloading by county (data). It also provides a network for people to work directly with lake management professionals, allowing each to learn from the other.
Florida LAKEWATCH was created by the state legislature in 1991 (Florida Statute 1004.49.) to:
- enhance the level of scientific knowledge available about Florida lakes.
- to help citizens and lake users understand and manage their lakes, and
- to develop an educated, well-informed constituency.