Water Quality Training and Certification Process
Lake Stewards of Maine (LSM) monitors a broad range of environmental indicators that affect the health of Maine Lakes. We have over 500 trained water quality (WQ) volunteers who collect quality scientific data. Their monitoring data and observations provide an extremely valuable resource for lake protection and a vital first-hand account of the evolving conditions of Maine’s Lakes and Ponds.
LSM trains and certifies volunteers to collect scientific water quality data of the highest quality. Each volunteer participates in an initial training workshop and is re-certified on a regular basis. All WQ volunteer monitors use a Secchi disk and view scope to measure water clarity, some also use dissolved oxygen (DO) meters to assist us in assess lake health. Volunteers are also trained and certified to collect other types of water quality information, including Phosphorous and Chlorophyll-α.
Volunteers need to collect data approximately every two weeks between May and October to help assess lake health. This data is submitted at the end of the season — mailed to us by November 1st. LSM staff review the data and enter any that has not already been entered digitally. The data is compiled and sent to the Maine DEP, which then creates the individual lake reports, which are published in the spring.
We host the data quality assurance reviewed data on our Lakes of Maine website.
Unreviewed data is hosted on our live data portal.
Criteria for Becoming a Volunteer Water Quality Monitor
Volunteer water quality monitors are accepted into the program with the following provisions, many of which are required for Quality Assurance and Quality Control purposes:
- The number of volunteers who monitor water quality on an individual lake is generally limited by the size of the body of water. If a lake is already being monitored, a new volunteer may be trained as an “alternate”, or in some cases, to partner with the existing volunteer. On large, multiple-basin lakes, it is often beneficial to have several volunteers involved. Please contact the LSM office if you have questions about whether or not there is a need for additional volunteers on your lake of interest.
- Volunteers must watch instructional videos and complete several quizzes related to the training format.
- Volunteers must attend training and certification workshop before collecting and submitting data. Workshops are offered in the spring through summer.
- LSM provides each lake with one Secchi disk with calibrated tape and a viewing scope. Volunteers who are monitoring that lake are expected to maintain the equipment and to return it to the LSM if they leave the program, or pass it along to their replacement monitor, if one is available. LSM does not provide DO meters but has a meter that can be rented if a person or lake association is in-between meters (supply chain issues have slowed the delivery of meters for up to a year before).
- Volunteers should plan on taking Secchi disk transparency readings at least twice monthly (approximately every two weeks) between May and October, and be able to make a multiple-year commitment to monitoring. DO readings need to be taken at least once each month.
- Secchi volunteers must attend an in-person re-certification workshop at least once every three years, unless they test annually with the online Secchi Simulator. If monitors test annually with the online Secchi Simulator, then they only need to get recertified in person every 6 years. DO monitors require annual recertification.
- Volunteer monitors must have access to a boat, a strong anchor, and — in most cases — a motor. Secchi disk readings and DO readings are generally taken at the deepest point in the lake basin.
2022 New Monitor and Recertification
We had a very successful summer training over 60 new monitors and recertifying many other, all in-person. This summer we again partnered with the Maine DEP to recertify dozens of volunteers around the state. We appreciate the travel as well as all of the work our volunteers perform. A special thank you to the local boat hosts who volunteer their time and gas, and enable us to perform regional trainings in addition to the training on Lake Auburn. The boat host program is vital to the success of ensuring all volunteers have the ability to become recertified.
For New Water Quality Monitors
For both new Secchi Water Transparency Monitors and new Secchi Water Transparency & Dissolved Oxygen Monitors, if you are interested in getting involved, please contact us using the form on this page. We offer many workshop sessions including some that may be in your area.
If you are interested in becoming a DO monitor, you must own or have access to a meter. That meter must also be certified. We send out information about annual certification of meters — our Meterfest event — starting every March.
It is highly recommended that if there is a monitor currently on your waterbody that you go out with them to see what the experience is like.
For Existing Water Quality Monitors
Thank you for another fantastic summer WQ monitors! Please remember to postmark all datasheets from 2022 summer to us by November 1st. If you have any questions, please contact us.
Summer 2023 Schedule
PLEASE NOTE THIS IS A DRAFT SCHEDULE AND SUBJECT TO CHANGES BASED UPON PARTICIPATION NUMBERS.
No workshops have been designated at this time.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.
Sign up for sessions here in the future
- Observations of recent conditions on/in a lake
- Problems or questions regarding volunteer monitoring equipment
- Any issues with quality assurance
- Discussion/interpretation of recently collected (or historical) lake data
- Climate change
- Changing technologies and monitoring methods
- Any unusual phenomena recently observed
- Changes in protocol due to the pandemic and other broader social issues as it relates to lake monitoring and science.
Water Quality Check-In Sessions Calendar
|March 15th||10:00 AM||Register|
|April 11th||10:00 AM||Register|
|May 2nd||11:00 AM||Register|
|May 16th||10:00 AM||Register|
|May 30th||10:00 AM||Register|
|June 15th||10:00 AM||Register|
|July 12th||10:00 AM||Register|
|July 28th||10:00 AM||Register|
|August 10th||10:00 AM||Register|
|August 29th||10:00 AM||Register|
|September 13th||11:00 AM||Register|
|September 28th||2:00 PM||Register|
|October 19th||10:00 AM||Register|
|November 8th||1:00 PM||Register|
|December 7th||10:00 AM||Register|