Water Quality Monitoring

Scientists sampling water quality

The LCBP-funded Long-Term Water Quality and Biological Monitoring Project has been conducted jointly by the Vermont and New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation since 1992. This program includes a network of 15 lake monitoring stations and 22 stations on tributaries to the Lake. The data collected at these stations is critical to research and management of the Lake ecosystem. The main purpose of the program is to provide data for analysis of long-term environmental change and the effects of management actions in the watershed.

At each Lake sampling station, biologists measure water temperature and clarity, the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, and other physical parameters. Water samples are also collected for analysis in the laboratory. These samples are analyzed for concentrations of nutrients, such as phosphorus, and several other dissolved materials. Chlorophyll measurements allow scientists to estimate the abundance of algae in the water. Biologists use special nets to collect small plants and animals that live in the water, called phytoplankton and zooplankton, and samples of mysid shrimp are also collected. A Zebra Mussel Monitoring Program by the VT DEC monitors zebra mussels, both free-floating juveniles and adults attached to hard surfaces.

Collecting physical, chemical and biological monitoring data is the key to developing a basic understanding of the Lake Champlain ecosystem. Scientists and managers use the data to determine the status of water quality in the Lake and rivers, document environmental change from human activities, track effectiveness of management programs, and guide the development of new management actions.

In addition to the Long-Term Monitoring Program, citizens from Vermont and New York collect water clarity, chlorophyll-a, and phosphorus data for the Lake Champlain Lay Monitoring Program. Since 1979, the Vermont Lay Monitoring Program has trained and equipped citizen volunteers to conduct water quality sampling on Lake Champlain and in 80 other Vermont lakes. The states of Vermont and New York and local watershed and lake associations also conduct biological and chemical monitoring in streams and lakes in the Basin.

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