Florida LAKEWATCH works directly with citizen volunteers who live on (or use) lakes, streams, waterways and estuaries and are willing to participate in a long-term monitoring effort.
Volunteer takes a Secchi disk reading
To become part of the LAKEWATCH team, volunteers are required to have access to a boat, almost any kind, and complete a training session, on their lake, which takes about two hours. The training session includes learning techniques for collecting water samples, filtering lake water to obtain algae samples, and taking Secchi disk readings (or water clarity readings).
Once the volunteer is certified by one of our LAKEWATCH staff and sampling sites are established, he/she samples the lake(s) once a month for a minimum of two years. The lake sampling equipment is supplied by the LAKEWATCH program and refurbished as needed.
Dan Willis explains data at a regional meeting.
Volunteers are then asked to freeze their water samples and deliver them to the nearest collection center. The samples are stored in a freezer at the collection center until one of the LAKEWATCH staff arrives to pick them up. The samples are then taken to the University of Florida's Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences water chemistry laboratory for analysis. For more information about LAKEWATCH sampling download a copy of "A Day In the Life Of A Water Sample" (LAKEWATCH Newsletter Volume X) from the Newsletter page.
The information compiled from these samplings is used to create a long-term database that can serve as documentation of current water chemistry conditions - to be compared with future water chemistry conditions. These data are available for downloading by county (data). LAKEWATCH data also provide much needed information for lake management decisions. LAKEWATCH data are included in the Florida Atlas of Lakes website (especially for volunteers).
LAKEWATCH Regional Meetings
Once a year, LAKEWATCH staff scientists meet with the volunteers (and other interested people) to provide an interpretation of the findings, as well as general information on lake management and lake ecology. Upcoming meetings are listed on the home page.
In return for their participation in LAKEWATCH, volunteers receive:
- a quarterly educational newsletter,
- individualized training in monitoring procedures,
- periodic reports on their lake, including an annual data packet for their lake,
- access to lake experts and
- invitations to regularly scheduled LAKEWATCH meetings.