Statewide Lake Monitoring Programs
Statewide lake monitoring efforts focus on characterizing lake conditions in New York State, identifying existing and emerging water quality problems, and fostering lake management partnerships to better address protection and restoration needs in these lakes. This mission is addresssed primarily through two statewide monitoring programs- the Lake Classification and Inventory Survey and the NY Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program:
The Lake Classification and Inventory Survey (LCI) is a multi-phase lake, pond, and reservoir monitoring program linked to the same geographic rotational schedule as the larger Rotating Integrated Basin Studies (RIBS) program. The LCI shares two monitoring schemes with the RIBS program- an index site network will likely be incorporated into the LCI in the near future:
A mass attack network, akin to the RIBS screening network, attempts to broadly characterize water quality conditions in the same drainage basins included in the RIBS program. Lakes and ponds are sampled one or two times to identify water quality problems related to eutrophication, invasive aquatic plants, or use impairments. Site selection focuses on those waterbodies with no historical data in the Division of Water database. Those waterbodies with some evidence of water quality problems are moved into the more intensive monitoring conducted in the same basin the following year.
An intensive site network involves monthly sampling on lakes, ponds, and reservoirs with documented water quality problems. This includes waterbodies cited on the state Priority Waterbody List without recent intensive monitoring data, and waterbodies identified through the mass attack network as candidates for further investigation. As with the mass attack network, monitoring focuses on water quality problems related to eutrophication, invasive species, and verification of problems associated with designated lake usage. However, additional investigations also include sediment analyses on lakes identified through GIS-based pre-screening as susceptible to contaminant loading from activities within the lake watershed.
The NY Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP) is a volunteer lake monitoring program conducted jointly by the NYSDEC Division of Water and the NY Federation of Lake Associations, a not-for-profit coalition of lake associations, lakefront residents, and other organizations dedicated to the preservation and restoration of New York lakes. Sampling volunteers from member-lake associations are provided equipment and training, and conduct biweekly water quality monitoring from May through October for a suite of standard lake indicators related primarily to lake eutrophication. Developed as a pilot project in 1985, CSLAP has involved more than 1300 volunteers on about 220 lakes throughout the state, collecting more than 15,000 samples over this period. Lay volunteers have contributed more than 75,000 hours of their time, resulting in a savings of close to $2 million.
LCI and CSLAP program water quality data and information are used to support assessment and management functions within NYSDEC Division of Water (DOW), including the Waterbody Inventory/Priority Waterbodies List (WI/PWL), New York State's Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 305(b) Water Quality Report, CWA Section 303(d) List of Impaired Waters of the state, and various state and federal programs, including federal databases used to develop nutrient criteria. Annual reports are issued for individual CSLAP lakes and basins monitored through the LCI. More details on methods, assessment criteria and their application in the RIBS program are contained in the Quality Assurance Program Plans and Standard Operating Procedures for each of the sampling media. These documents are available from NYSDEC on request.