Monday, December 13, 2021

Adirondack Watershed Institute expands lake monitoring program

AWI lake monitoring

The Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) recently announced that it has been awarded a grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program to expand the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP) and further safeguard waterbodies across the Adirondack region.

ALAP is the largest community-science lake monitoring program in the Adirondack region, run in partnership between AWI and Protect the Adirondacks. Operating since 1997, community members volunteering through ALAP collect water samples and other data on 90 lakes in the Adirondacks. The results help uncover the impacts of road salt, understand recovery from acidification, and address other challenges to Adirondack lakes. The recent grant funding expands opportunities for additional community members to contribute toward this effort.

Despite the wide reach and success of ALAP, many of the Adirondacks’ 3,000+ lakes and ponds have not been surveyed for water quality in more than two decades, and some have never been assessed. The lack of long-term data and regular assessments present many challenges to the protection of these important resources. On the New York side of the Lake Champlain Basin, just 32 lakes are monitored regularly.

“We’ve done an excellent job of monitoring Adirondack lakes at a regional scale but often lack the data necessary to make informed decisions about individual waterbodies,” says Dr. Brendan Wiltse, senior research scientist at AWI. “Adirondack lakes are facing stress from climate change, road salt, harmful algal blooms, failing septic systems, and invasive species. If we’re going to guard our lakes against these threats, we need current data to prioritize action.”

AWI and Protect the Adirondacks are recruiting volunteers to help monitor at least an additional twenty lakes within the Lake Champlain Basin. Volunteer training and lake monitoring will begin in spring 2022. Funds from the Lake Champlain Basin Program cover monitoring equipment and the first year of lake membership fees.

“Our success at monitoring so many Adirondack lakes over the past twenty-four years lies in the hands of the hundreds of community members that have lent their time and energy to the program,” says Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks. “We encourage anyone who wants to participate in protecting their waterbodies to join ALAP.”

Dr. Dan Kelting, executive director of AWI, says “Clean water is the legacy of the Adirondack Park. We’re excited to have the opportunity to engage more people in the science that helps protect that legacy.”

A map of eligible waterbodies and more information about volunteering are found at

This project is funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement (LC-00A00707-0) to NEIWPCC in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program.

Above photo: Volunteers with the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program are trained to use scientific equipment, like a Secchi disk, to collect data as part of the regional water quality monitoring program. Photo provided by AWI.

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3 Responses

  1. Fide Scott says:

    WAKE-UP CALL!!!! Cranberry Lake (the third largest lake in the ADKs) currently has NO Aquatic Invasive Species. One would think this would be a reason for EXTRA protection; to not get an AIS in the first place. AWI only hires Watershed Stewards at ONE boat lunch on Cranberry Lake and not BOTH!!!! Do they want AIS to enter Cranberry Lake through the *back door*?? PLEASE DO A BETTER JOB, AWI.

    • Jane B. Smith says:

      Most of the major lakes and ponds in the Adirondacks have (or should have) lake associations. Hopefully these folks are partnering with AWI in the ALAP program to help monitor their own water body as well as others in their watershed. CSLAP is a great statewide monitoring system. ALAP is specific to our unique Adirondack Park.
      Have a personal conversation with Drs. Kelting and Wiltse about your lake or pond…it’s something you’ll find difficult to do at the state level!

    • Fide, We appreciate your concern regarding AIS entering Cranberry Lake, preventing the spread of AIS is part of our core mission at AWI. All of our stewarding positions are covered through grants or contracts with local lake associations. Adding new locations requires funding, and logistics for our staff in terms of safety, facilities, etc. We’re always looking for opportunities to fill gaps in coverage by working with our funders and local partners.

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