Research Webinar: Methodology Matters – Modifying the Vermont Lay Monitoring Program to Improve Lake Assessment
Speaker: Mark Mitchell, Lake Champlain Sea Grant
The Vermont Lay Monitoring Program (LMP) trains and equips volunteers (or Lay Monitors) to conduct periodic lake water quality sampling from their boat using quality-assured methods. Since the program’s inception in 1979, the principal goals have remained the same: to establish baseline water quality conditions; to track long-term nutrient enrichment and assess monitoring data following Vermont Water Quality Standards; and to teach lakeshore homeowners and lake users about lake ecology and stewardship.
Lay Monitors sample a lake at an established central/deep site for total phosphorus (nutrient) concentration, chlorophyll-a (algae and cyanobacteria) concentration, and/or Secchi depth (water clarity) every week to ten days from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In total more than 100 inland lakes and 40 Lake Champlain stations have been monitored by this dedicated group of citizen scientists, with support from the Department of Environmental Conservation and Lake Champlain Sea Grant (since 2021). The current 5-year LMP Quality Assurance Project Plan (2020-2024) is planned to be revised in 2023 by changing the sampling methodology to biweekly lake surface and near-bottom bottle grab sampling after piloting it alongside hose sampling in 2022 for 16 lakes. This revision follows the need for a simplified protocol for all LMP lakes to collect and assess correlated water quality data at consistent discrete depths, while minimizing the risk of equipment contamination. The use of a Secchi disk with a view tube/scope will also be required. Finally, new caffeine testing of lake water samples will be added as an indicator of human wastewater sources.
Mark is the Lake Monitoring and Community Outreach Coordinator for Lake Champlain Sea Grant, in partnership with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). He earned a bachelor’s degree in forestry from Virginia Tech in 2002 and a master’s degree in Limnology at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland in 2008. He began working seasonally with the Vermont DEC Lakes Program in 2009 and permanently in 2015, with experience in monitoring, assessment, and permitting. In 2020, Mark worked as a water quality scientist with Horizons Regional Council in New Zealand’s North Island, and he returned to Burlington, Vermont in 2021.
Participants should expect approximately 30 minutes of presentation, which will be recorded, followed by a facilitated, 30-minute Q&A period. This webinar is a part of the Lake Champlain Sea Grant Research Webinar Series.
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