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Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP)

The Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP) is a volunteer lake monitoring and education program that is managed by DEC and New York State Federation of Lake Associations (NYSFOLA). The program has delivered high quality data to many DEC programs for over 25 years.

The program is an excellent example of a successful volunteer monitoring program.

  • volunteers are trained in approved sampling methods
  • certified labs are used to analyze the water samples
  • lake data are interpreted by professionals
CSLAP volunteer collecting water sample with Kemmerer sampler on Kirk Lake
CSLAP volunteer collecting water sample
with Kemmerer sampler on Kirk Lake.

Why do we have CSLAP?

New York State residents and visitors enjoy more than 7500 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. To protect NYS waterbodies more information is needed than can be collected by state officials.

CSLAP is a partnership between DEC and lake residents who help to monitor and collect important lake data. This information is used to understand lake conditions and to develop lake management plans.

How was CSLAP founded?

CSLAP was established in 1985 by DEC and the New York State Federation of Lake Associations (NYSFOLA).

CSLAP has three major objectives:

  • collect lake data for representative lakes throughout NYS
  • identify lake problems and changes in water quality

  • educate the public about lake conservation

Collect data

Trained CSLAP volunteers collect lake data following approved methods. The data are added to the statewide lake database to help detect changes in water quality over time. The data also increases the total number of lakes that are sampled statewide and improves our understanding of the overall water quality of NYS lakes.

The data are used to report water quality information to federal, state, and local government and to document lake conditions for present or future management by lake associations and individuals.

Identify lake problems

Regular lake monitoring keeps track of existing problems, detects threats to lakes before they become a problem, and helps to evaluate lake condition patterns throughout NYS. Lake residents and trained volunteers are in a position to observe lake changes and compare them to "normal" conditions to detect emerging problems.

Public education

Volunteers who participate in CSLAP gain a better understanding of lake ecology and lake management practices. CSLAP volunteers have a strong commitment to conserve and protect lake resources. Volunteers help local communities better understand what is happening in the lake by sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm.

How does CSLAP work?

Through CSLAP, DEC and NYSFOLA organize and train volunteers to collect lake water samples, participate in special studies, and promote statewide lake stewardship.

CSLAP volunteer measuring the depth of water clarity with a secchi disk.
CSLAP volunteer measuring the depth
of water clarity with a secchi disk.

Collect standard data

CSLAP lake association volunteers collect data and lake information in a consistent, reproducible way using the same equipment, sampling procedures, and laboratories.

Trained CSLAP volunteers regularly collect this high quality lake data from more than 100 lakes across the state each year, and have sampled more than 240 lakes since 1985.

DEC and NYSFOLA provide training, equipment and supplies to volunteers to collect, process and ship water samples for analysis to a qualified laboratory. The water quality data and user perception surveys contribute to developing state water quality standards and build a framework for understanding the relationship between lake conditions and lake uses.

Special Studies

Some volunteers collect additional data on aquatic vegetation, lake levels, angler and boating use, zebra mussels, and shoreline assessments information. These studies increase our understanding of lake uses and ecology.

Statewide lake stewardship

Lakefront volunteers provide local knowledge and a historical perspective on changes in lake condition. Volunteers help to detect both abrupt and subtle changes and report on: sudden algal blooms, fish kills and the distribution of invasive species.

How is the CSLAP data used?

Lake data collected by CSLAP volunteers educates lakefront property owners, lake users, and citizens, adds to the statewide lake database (a long-term DEC data set), contributes to water quality management plans and reports for CSLAP lakes, and supports many DEC programs and activities.


More about Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP):