Lake Monitoring

What is the Volunteer Lake Monitoring program?

Monitoring water quality in a state with over 92,000 miles of streams and rivers, and roughly 440,000 acres of lakes, is an enormous job.

The purpose of the Volunteer Lakes Monitoring Program is to train citizen scientists to aid in the monitoring effort, allowing us to examine more areas, and improve our ability to preserve water health. With the help of trained volunteers, the Lakes Monitoring Program gathers data, identifies problems, and improves our understanding of how to best protect the waters of the Commonwealth.

Program Goals

Educate the Public:

By providing training and research opportunities to citizens so that they understand the science of water quality, the VLMP increases public awareness of water quality issues and environmental protection.

Generate Data:

The VLMP provides easily accessible, quality data that covers a large area and can be used by citizens who want to learn about the state of their local waterbodies, and also by government agencies, researchers, and others to characterize water quality in Kentucky lakes. These monitoring results are available to the public on a web-based map viewer called KY Volunteer Lake Sampling Results.

Complete the Picture:

Measurements taken by citizen scientists help augment work conducted by DOW and other government agencies. These measurements and observations will also provide field verification to improve remote sensing models employed by DOW to rapidly evaluate large areas of lakes across Kentucky.

monitoring activities

The procedures for data collection, observation and reporting are described in the Kentucky Watershed Watch Volunteer Lake Monitoring Handbook. The methods are designed to be low cost and quickly and easily performed, and provide hands-on experience for volunteers.

Volunteers utilize Secchi Disks to measure the clarity of lake water, while also making observations of the general lake appearance and weather conditions. Although the program is geared toward understanding general lake health, special emphasis is placed on Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and protecting drinking water sources.

Getting involved

Anyone with an interest and willingness is welcome to join this program! There is no cost, and the training materials and monitoring equipment are provided to you. Volunteers can join an existing group or begin monitoring at new lake locations.

If you are interested in taking part in this program, or have any questions, please contact Perry Thomas at or (502)782-5293.