Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program



Jukes LakeThe Borough's Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program (VLMP) was established 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. NOTE: The Mat-Su Borough has decided to retire the VLMP after a 20 year run. We are in the process of wrapping up our data reports, developing a data archive plan, and surplusing the VLMP equipment. Our goal is to honor the work of the last 20 years by making the data and lake reports accessible to the public online in a useable format. We appreciate the many volunteers and staff who helped monitor the health of their favorite lakes for the citizens of the Borough - thank you!

Program Contacts

    Ted Eischeid, Planner II 
    (907) 861-8606
    Brianne Blackburn, Environmental Planner
    (907) 861-8439

The Basics

IMG 6559

Lake monitoring involves taking measurements at the deepest spot of the lake once per month throughout the ice-free season (May-September). Volunteers provide their own boat and life preservers and must have legal access to the lake for monitoring.

Measurements include:

  • Secchi disk reading (for water clarity)
  • Observations (weather, wildlife, human activity, aquatic plants, water level)
  • Lake profile (multi-parameter sensor is used to read temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen and pH at each meter depth)
  • Collecting a water sample for lab analysis of chlorophyll a and phosphorus

Deeper lakes will take more time than shallower ones…. Lake monitoring volunteers tend to spend 2-2.5 hours on the lake each month, and additional time should also be factored in for:

  • Picking up and dropping off lake monitoring equipment
  • Delivering the chilled water samples to the lab for analysis
  • Recertification training each year

Get in touch with program staff to learn more about our various volunteering opportunities.  There are many ways to help in addition to lake monitoring, including filing, scanning documents, equipment maintenance, updating spreadsheets and data entry.

Program Details

Big Lake July 2005

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program (VLMP) was established in 1998 to determine baseline conditions on area lakes that may change as a result of watershed development.  Monitoring for baseline water quality conditions involves collecting quantitative information from which comparisons can be made. Five to ten years of data are required to assess a lake’s natural or existing condition, but even a single year of data provides valuable information.  VLMP volunteers provide stewardship for their lake and work to preserve water quality today and for future generations. 

 Goals of the VLMP:

  • Monitor and describe baseline conditions of individual lakes
  • Detect trends in water quality, especially deterioration caused by nutrient pollution
  • Promote watershed stewardship and provide outreach to property owners and community members
  • Provide information to residents, state and federal agencies, researchers, or others interested in local lakes

Why monitor lakes?

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough is one of the fastest growing regions in the state.  We are fortunate to have numerous lakes, streams, rivers and wetlands that provide recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike.  As the Borough’s population increases, the landscape and land use patterns are also changing, potentially affecting the health of our waterbodies.

One of the biggest contributors to surface water pollution nationwide is non-point source pollutionNon-point source pollution includes materials carried by runoff such as lawn fertilizers, nutrients from leaking septic systems and road chemicals.  As pollutants accumulate in the watershed and flow downstream, lakes become the “endpoints” and their water quality degrades.  Changes in water quality and the lake environment may be gradual, and they are difficult to reverse.

Lake Data

Are you interested in the information and findings collected by our volunteers? Review data summaries below for each lake monitored within the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.