Our Lake Monitoring Program is for organizations or individuals interested in the water quality of their lakes. Since 1984, over 150 lakes have been involved in this program.

Join lake monitoring to learn more about:

  • The present status of your lake
  • Whether water quality is changing (this requires long-term monitoring)
  • Unusual abundance of algae and/or rooted aquatic plant
  • Fish kills
  • Changes in water clarity
Other benefits of this program:
- We maintain long-term records for each lake.
- Option to upload to SWIMS (the statewide water quality database) which makes your data accessible, organized and download-able.

How do I test my lake water? 💧

Testing your lake is easy! Simply contact us to determine testing options for your lake and receive your lake testing kit by mail. (Option to pick-up your kit if you prefer). Bottles and sampling instructions are provided in your testing kit. Our lab performs the analyses and you'll receive a lake data summary report.

What should I test for?

We offer overturn sampling options (spring and fall) in addition to summer sampling. See package details below.

Spring and Fall Overturn Sampling ​

Sample once or twice per year, during spring overturn and/or fall overturn. This timing ensures lake water is well-mixed.

Summer Sampling

Sample during the growing season.

Package A - $182
Package B - $99
Package C​ - $90
Basic lake chemistry, including mineralogy and nutrient content. Lakes just starting sampling should run this package for 2 years.
Analytes in this package would affect the plant growth within the lake, which may be an indication of land use runoff. This package is recommended after running Package A for at least two years.Summer sampling to assess nutrient content and chlorophyll-a (a measure of algae).
Test in June, July, August and/or September.
ammonium nitrogen
calcium hardness
nitrate + nitrite (N)
reactive phosphorus
total hardness
total Kjeldahl nitrogen
total phosphorus
ammonium nitrogen
nitrate + nitrite (N)
reactive phosphorus
total Kjeldahl nitrogen
total phosphorus

Nitrate + Nitrite (N)
Total Phosphorus
Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen

Additional analyses are available upon request.  

We are happy to work with lake groups to find the best sampling options.

Contact: Sarah Hull - shull@uwsp.edu | 715-346-2420.


Additional Monitoring Recommendations

There are other types of water quality monitoring that can be done to get a better picture of overall lake health.
In addition to the water chemistry, we recommend:
  • Secchi disc (water clarity) readings during summer.
  • Water level monitoring; changes in water level can affect lake quality.
  • Oxygen and temperature readings, along with depth (during late summer and late winter).
We also encourage participating in the WDNR's Citizen Lake Monitoring Network (CLMN), which trains volunteers to monitor lake quality.

Your Lake Data Report

Your Lake Data Report will include current and historical lake data which can reveal water quality variability and trends over time. Each lake analyte includes a summary explanation to help you interpret your results. One or two years of data are often not sufficient to characterize a lake, so ongoing monitoring is encouraged.
The database generated by this program may also be useful for graduate students, staff, and local or state professionals who are interested in lake water quality.
In order to produce your Lake Report, your data will be uploaded to the DNR statewide database Surface Water Integrated Monitoring Systems (SWIMS). 

Additional Resources:

Online PDF:  Interpreting Lake Water Quality

Links to other lake related sites in Wisconsin:

Citizen Lake Monitoring Network