Lay Monitoring Program

panoramic view of lake

The Vermont Lay Monitoring Program (LMP) trains and equips volunteers (or Lay Monitors) Vermont Lay Monitoring Program logoto 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
  • to teach lakeshore homeowners and lake users about lake ecology and stewardship. 

In total more than 90 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.  We are grateful for their interest and commitment to better understanding the health of Vermont lakes and ponds.

What We Monitor and Why
How You Can Help
Lay Monitoring Program Manual, Secchi Disk Simulator, Data Sheets, and QAPPs
Lay Monitoring Annual Lake Reports & Inland Lake Score Card Trends+Status Reports
View and Export Lay Monitoring Data
Lakeshore Land Use/Land Cover Maps
Other Volunteer Monitoring Resources and Opportunities

What We Monitor and WhyRichard using a Secchi disk to measure water clarity

Lay Monitors sample a lake for total phosphorus (nutrient) concentration, chlorophyll-a (algae) concentration, and/or water clarity (Secchi disk depth) every week to ten days from Memorial Day to Labor Day, collecting a minimum of eight samples.  Total phosphorus concentration is sampled to determine a lake's level of nutrient enrichment.  Phosphorus feeds algae, cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), and aquatic plants (including nuisance and invasive plant populations). Chlorophyll-a is the green pigment in plants, algae, and cyanobacteria.  The concentration of chlorophyll-a in a lake is used to describe the amount of algae and cyanobacteria.  Generally, lakes with higher phosphorus concentrations will have increased algae and cyanobacteria growth.  Water clarity is measured by using a Secchi disk, an eight inch diameter disk painted with black and white quadrants.  The disk is lowered into the lake by a rope, marked in meters, until it disappears from sight, which is the Secchi depth.  Generally, water clarity decreases as chlorophyll-a concentration increases.

Why do we measure total phosphorus, chlorophyll-a, and water clarity?  Nutrient pollution is one of the most widespread environmental issues in lakes, which are typically limited in primary productivity (natural eutrophication) by phosphorus.  Unnaturally high levels of phosphorus caused by human activity can result in excessive growth of algae, cyanobacteria, and aquatic plants while decreasing water clarity (cultural eutrophication).  Additionally, nuisance algae and aquatic plant growth can interfere with boating, swimming, fishing and other recreational activities.  As the excessive growth dies back each year it falls to the lake bottom, causing sediments to build up more rapidly while depleting oxygen during decomposition.  When the natural habitat of a lake is altered, fish and wildlife populations using the lake may also change.  Human activity along a lake's shoreline and in the watershed can accelerate the amount of phosphorus entering a lake.  Sources of phosphorus include: shoreline erosion, fertilizer run-off, run-off from dirt roads, failing septic systems, agricultural runoff, residential runoff, erosion from logging, and erosion from construction.

How You Can Help

Water quality sampling equipment and training are provided by the Department of Environmental Conservation. The monitor supplies their time and a boat. For more information on volunteering, email Mark Mitchell or call (802) 490-6129.  

Lake Score Card Checklist of Lake Protection Actions

Lakeshores and Lake Wise

The Lake Wise Program is an Agency of Natural Resources initiative that awards lake-friendly shoreland property, including that of state parks, town beaches, private homes and businesses.  The goal of Lake Wise is to establish a new normal, a new culture of lakeshore landscaping that is proven to help protect the lake. A property that earns the Lake Wise Award will represent a "model" shoreland property.  The Lake Wise Award certifies a property is well managed, using shoreland Best Management Practices, and is maintained to care for the lake.

Report an Environmental Violation

 If you observe or have knowledge of any activity that may be in violation of Vermont's Shoreland Protection Act, an unauthorized lake encroachment, or other lake-related violation, please report the violation to the Environmental Enforcement Office (you may remain anonymous).

Lay Monitoring Program Manual, Secchi Disk Simulator, Data Sheets, and QAPPs

Vermont Lay Monitoring Program (LMP) Manual
Vermont Lay Monitoring Program (LMP) Sampling Protocol
Depth Charts of Vermont Lakes and Ponds

Secchi Disk Reading Simulator (from Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program)

2017 LMP Supplemental Water Sampling Data Sheet
2017 LMP Basic Monitoring (Secchi-only) Data Sheet
2017 LMP Rain Gauge Data Sheet

Lake Champlain Lay Monitoring Program Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) 2013 - 2017
Inland Lakes Lay Monitoring Program Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) 2013 - 2017

Lay Monitoring Annual Lake Reports & Inland Lake Score Card Trends+Status Reports

2016 (Trends+Status through 2015): 
Note: For information on the Inland Lake Score Card Trends+Status Reports, see How Lakes are Scored. For Lake Champlain Trends+Status, see Lake Champlain Long-Term Monitoring Project.


Beebe Pond: Secchi SummaryTrends+Status
Berlin PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Big Pond: Secchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake BomoseenSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake CarmiSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Caspian LakeSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Chipman LakeSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Cole PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Coles PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Curtis PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Danby PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake DunmoreSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
East Long PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Echo Lake (Charleston)Secchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake EdenSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Elfin LakeSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake Elmore: Secchi SummaryTrends+Status
Fairfield PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake FairleeSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Fosters Pond: Secchi SummaryTrends+Status
Great Hosmer PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Green River ReservoirSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake GreenwoodSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake GrotonSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Halls LakeSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Harvey's LakeSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Holland PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Indian Brook ReservoirSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake IroquoisSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Island PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Joes Pond (Danville)Secchi SummaryTrends+Status
Little Lake (Wells)Secchi SummaryTrends+Status
Long Pond (Westmore)Secchi SummaryTrends+Status
Maidstone LakeSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake MemphremagogSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Miles PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Mirror LakeSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake MoreySecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Nelson Pond (Forest Lake - Calais)Secchi SummaryTrends+Status
Newark PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Nichols PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
North Montpelier PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake ParkerSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Peacham PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Perch Pond (Benson)Secchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake RapondaSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake RescueSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake RunnemedeSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake SalemSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Seymour LakeSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Shadow Lake (Glover)Secchi SummaryTrends+Status
Silver Lake (Barnard)Secchi SummaryTrends+Status
South Pond (Eden)Secchi SummaryTrends+Status
South Pond (Marlboro)Secchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake St. CatherineSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Stratton PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Sunset Lake (Marlboro)Secchi SummaryTrends+Status
Ticklenaked PondSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Valley LakeSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Waterbury ReservoirSecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Lake WilloughbySecchi SummaryTrends+Status
Woodbury Lake (Sabin Pond)Secchi SummaryTrends+Status


Lake Champlain #4 (Button Bay - Broad Lake)Secchi Summary
Lake Champlain #5 (Thompson's Point)Secchi Summary
Lake Champlain #7 (Burlington - Broad Lake)Secchi Summary
Lake Champlain #9 (Colchester Shoals)Secchi Summary
Lake Champlain #10 (Outer Malletts Bay)Secchi Summary
Lake Champlain #11 (Inner Malletts Bay)Secchi Summary
Lake Champlain #21 (Keeler Bay)Secchi Summary
Lake Champlain #22 (Maquam Bay)Secchi Summary
Lake Champlain #30 (Alburg Bridge)Secchi Summary
Lake Champlain #33 (Burlington Bay)Secchi Summary
Lake Champlain #38 (Town Farm Bay)Secchi Summary
Lake Champlain #40 (Burlington - North Beach)Secchi Summary
Lake Champlain #41 (Queneska Island)Secchi Summary
Lake Champlain #42 (Champlain Bridge)Secchi Summary

Vermont Map of 2016 Lay Monitoring Sites
Past Lay Monitoring Program Annual Reports:

2015 Lay Monitoring Program Report (PDF, 156 MB)
2014 Lay Monitoring Program Report (PDF, 8 MB)
35 Year Vermont Lay Monitoring Program Report - Inland Lakes (1979-2013) (PDF, 8 MB)
35 Year Vermont Lay Monitoring Program Report - Lake Champlain (1979-2013) (PDF, 2 MB)
2012 Lay Monitoring Program Report - Lake Champlain 15 MB
2012 Lay Monitoring Program Report - Inland Lakes 8 MB

View and Export Lay Monitoring Data

Lay Monitoring Lake Water Quality Data - from 1979 to Present (view and export to Excel)

Vermont Integrated Watershed Information System (IWIS): The VTDEC-Watershed Management Division’s new online data portal for water quality information. Here you can access water quality and chemistry testing information from throughout Vermont.

Lakeshore Land Use/Land Cover Maps

A lake's health is directly impacted by the land use and land cover (LULC) around the lakeshore. These maps depict the LULC mapped within a 100-meter or 600-meter buffer zone- of select lakes within the Lay Monitoring Program.  These maps were created as an outreach tool and include layers from the Vermont Center for Geographic Information and the UVM Spatial Analysis Lab. For more information about this LULC layer, click here

Other Vermont Volunteer Monitoring Resources and Opportunities

Vermont Volunteer Surface Water Monitoring Guide

The LaRosa Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Analytical Services Partnerships (LaRosa Partnership): Since 2003 this partnership has helped watershed associations and monitoring groups across the state of Vermont implement new and/or ongoing surface water monitoring projects for waters in need of water quality assessment by helping to alleviate the financial burden of laboratory analysis costs. This testing allows citizens to get out and see their streams and rivers firsthand, learn about water quality issues, and use water testing to identify where impacts are present.

Vermont Invasive Patrollers (VIPs) Program

Vermont Cyanobacteria (Blue-Green Algae) Monitors and Lake Conditions

Vermont Department of Health Swim Water Testing for E. coli


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