The Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP) is a volunteer lake monitoring program run by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the NYS Federation of Lake Associations, Inc. (NYSFOLA). It was initiated in 1985 and was modeled after successful volunteer programs in Vermont, Maine, Illinois and Minnesota. Each participating lake association is a member of NYSFOLA, a not-for-profit coalition of lake associations and others interested in lake management. NYSFOLA was founded in 1983 and presently serves over 200 lake associations as well as individual and corporate members.
Citizen volunteers from NYSFOLA-member lake associations are responsible for collecting biweekly water quality data and samples from June through September. More than 400 volunteers participate in the program each year on approximately 180 sites. Samples are collected from surface waters (epilimnion) for shallow lakes. Bottom, or hypolimnion, samples are collected from deeper lakes. Parameters include water temperature, Secchi transparency, conductivity, pH, color, total phosphorus, nitrogen (total, NOx, ammonia), Chlorophyll a calcium, and chloride. Samples are also collected to determine the potential presence of harmful algal blooms.
Volunteers may also submit aquatic plant samples, take lake level measurements, monitor for invasive species, conduct angler surveys, and provide other valuable information about the condition of their lake.
Water samples are sent to an ELAP certified laboratory (currently Upstate Fresh Water Institute in Syracuse, NY) for analyses. These results and other lake measurements are forwarded to NYSFOLA and NYSDEC. Each participating lake receives a report highlighting the year’s sampling results. (See the CSLAP Reports page.) In addition, results are stored electronically to allow for comparison of historical data and current conditions. This allows changes and trends in water quality to be observed and predicted for CSLAP lakes. Ultimately, CSLAP participation provides NYSDEC and NYSFOLA lake associations with a basis for making management decisions.
In order to ensure that the data collected is of the highest caliber, all volunteers are trained to adhere to procedures set forth in the CSLAP Sampling Protocol. Lakes are asked to commit to a five year sampling regimen. Hence, a firm commitment from volunteers and lake associations is required prior to enlisting in the program.
Although this information is useful to the participating lakes, it also helps a statewide review of lake conditions. NYSDEC uses this information to assess the current state of lakes, and also to compile trend data on the changes over time in NYS lakes.
There is a required Participation Fee of $370 for shallow lakes (less than ~20 ft deep) and $470 for deeper, stratified lakes where bottom water samples will be collected. This represents a small fraction of the total cost of equipment, supplies, sample analysis, and shipping costs per lake.
To find out how your lake association can participate in CSLAP, please call NYSFOLA at (800)796-3652 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about CSLAP, click here to go to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation website CSLAP page.