Melanie Trost Watershed Coordinator
Lisa Borowsky Water Quality Technician
New Volunteer Lake Monitors Needed!
Volunteers are needed for Lake Lucille, Cottonwood Lake, Rocky Lake, Big Beaver Lake, Rainbow Lake, Matanuska Lake, Kepler Lake, Bradley Lake, Canoe Lake and Knik Lake.
This is a great opportunity to monitor your lake and learn about lake ecology. To become a lake monitor, all you need to do is attend a free certification class and go out on your lake with a trainer. Call Melanie for additional information on lake monitoring training opportunities.
For additional information on volunteer levels, the Lake Monitoring Program, and other watershed stewardship opportunities, see the following documents:
Volunteer JobsWatershed Steward:
Volunteer opportunities for improving and maintaining water quality in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Level I Lake Monitoring Volunteer:
The most basic level of volunteering, requiring the least amount of time. This level is a good place to start. Level II Lake Monitoring Volunteer:
All of our current lake monitors are Level II Volunteers, collecting more information than would Level I Volunteers. The commitment of this level only requires one monitoring event per month during the ice-free months.
The Borough’s Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program was established in 1998 to obtain baseline water quality information on lakes located in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Local lakes offer scenic views, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, an increase in property values, and an overall enhancement of quality of life. As the Borough’s population continues to grow and urbanization increases, so does the need for information about our waterbodies. The Borough has thousands of lakes, and agencies often do not have the funds to study a particular lake unless it is identified as impaired.
Lake monitors use a “Secchi disk” to measure the lake’s water clarity, and they use high-quality instruments to measure water column characteristics, such as temperature and dissolved oxygen. Volunteers also collect water samples to determine levels of phosphorus and algae. After the data is collected by volunteers, program staff conducts a quality assurance review and enters the data on each lake’s master electronic file. The Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program is part of the Cook Inlet Citizens' Environmental Monitoring Program (CEMP) Partnership.
What is involved
New lake monitors attend a half-day training session close to break-up each spring. Once trained, monitors generally find the monitoring an easy one to four hour monthly commitment. Volunteers do not need to live on the lakeshore, but must have legal access to the lake. Volunteers use their own boats to access the sample site. It is best to monitor monthly over the ice-free season for at least a few years to get the best baseline information.
Lake monitors provide the program with valuable information. As a result of these efforts, we are able to learn more about Matanuska-Susitna Borough lakes, one of the first steps towards maintaining water quality!
What the Monitoring Program Does and Does Not Do
The Borough's lake monitoring program collects data to determine the lake's overall condition and trophic status. Trophic status refers to how enriched with nutrients the lake is. Highly enriched lakes tend to be murky with a lot of plant growth and possibly algal blooms; less enriched lakes generally have clear water without a lot of vegetation. Development and watershed urbanization can enrich a lake beyond its natural trophic condition by introducing additional nutrients, such as phosphorous, from the watershed.
The monitoring program does not test for all nutrients, or for hydrocarbons, bacteria or a number of other potential pollutants. The program does not enforce state or federal water quality regulations. The lakes data and information gained from the monitoring program, however, may be passed on to agencies or other parties interested in the health of the Borough's waterbodies.
The Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program has contributed data to the state's ACWA (Alaska's Clean Water Actions) program, which establishes priorities for assessing and managaing waterbodies in Alaska. The data has helped researchers determine study priorities, and has been used to promote lake and watershed stewardship.