Source: UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
State Agricultural Experiment Station
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Jul 1, 2006
Project End Date
Jun 30, 2012
Grant Year
Project Director
Canfield, J. E.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Non Technical Summary
The Florida Lakewatch program is a successful citizen monitoring program for Florida freshwater lakes. In response to citizens' requests for lake management assistance, the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences provide faculty, staff and laboratory support to almost 3000 volunteers. Reliable water chemistry data has been collected on over 1000 lakes in 50 counties so far. Florida Lakewatch works directly with citizens who live on or use lakes, rivers or waterways and are willing to participate in a long-term monitoring effort.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
To monitor water quality in freshwater and coastal waters.
Project Methods
To become part of the Lakewatch team, volunteers are required to have access to a boat and complete a 2 hour training session on their lake. The training session includes learning techniques for collecting water samples, filtering lake water to obtain algae samples, and taking Secchi disk readings. Once the volunteer is certified by Lakewatch staff and sampling sites are established, samples are taken once a month for a minimum of 2 years. The equipment is provided by the Lakewatch program. Volunteers are asked to freeze their water samples and deliver them to the nearest collection center where they are stored until Lakewatch staff can pick them up. The samples are taken to the University's water chemistry laboratory for analysis. Information compiled from these samplings is used to create a long-term database to document current water chemistry conditions and compare them to future conditions. Once a year, Lakewatch staff scientists meet with volunteers to provide an interpretation of findings, as well as general information on lake management & ecology.

Progress 07/01/06 to 06/30/12

OUTPUTS: In 1991, the Florida Legislature established Florida LAKEWATCH (Chapter 1004.49 F.S.) to work with volunteers (Citizen Scientists) to collect monthly water samples for the purpose of establishing long-term trends in water quality in their lakes. LAKEWATCH has worked with almost 3000 Citizen Scientists who have sampled over 1000 lakes, 150 near shore coastal sites, 125 river sites and 5 springs. Over 170 water bodies have been sampled monthly for over 15-years. The Citizen Scientist collected data now comprise over 40% of the nutrient data for Florida that house in the United States Environmental Protection Agency's national STORET database. These comprehensive data have led to the publication over 30-refereed scientific papers from authors in Canada, Spain, Denmark, England as well as the LAKEWATCH staff. LAKEWATCH publishes lake management circulars and an on-line quarterly newsletter. Requests for data are mailed to citizens, managers, private consultants, and political leaders. PARTICIPANTS: Not relevant to this project. TARGET AUDIENCES: Not relevant to this project. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Not relevant to this project.

LAKEWATCH data have been used by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), Florida LAKEWATCH and scientists to develop scientifically defensible nutrient criteria for Florida Lakes.The criteria developed by LAKEWATCH were accepted by the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission for incorporation into FDEP's rules. The Florida Legislature unanimously approved the rule changes. Finally, FDEP recognized the quality of the LAKEWATCH data and the tremendous cost-savings that are had by using Citizen Scientists. FDEP now supports sustained funding for LAKEWATCH in order to monitor long-term trends in Florida water quality.


  • Bachmann RW, Bigham DL, Hoyer MV, Canfield DE Jr. 2012. Factors determining the distributions of total phosphorus, total nitrogen, and chlorophyll a in Florida lakes. Lake Reserv Manage. 28:10-26.
  • Bachmann RW, Bigham DL, Hoyer MV, Canfield DE Jr. 2012. Phosphorus, nitrogen, and the designated uses of Florida lakes. Lake Reserv Manage. 28:46-58.
  • Bachmann RW, Bigham DL, Hoyer MV, Canfield DE Jr. 2012. A strategy for establishing numeric nutrient criteria for Florida lakes. Lake Reserv Manage. 28:84-91.

Progress 10/01/07 to 09/30/08

OUTPUTS: Florida LAKEWATCH is the State of Florida's volunteer citizen monitoring program. LAKEWATCH volunteers monitor monthly over 600 lakes. This year LAKEWATCH examined the threat of toxic algae (specifically microcystin) to 187 Florida lakes with a range of trophic states (oligotrophic to hypereutrophic). Results have been distributed directly to over 2500 LAKEWATCH volunteers and placed on the Florida LAKEWATCH website that is visited by over 5000 individuals each year. Results have also been presented at the annual Florida Lake Management Society meeting and the International Symposium of the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) in Orlando. Scientific participants at these meetings numbered over 400 individuals. PARTICIPANTS: Not relevant to this project. TARGET AUDIENCES: Not relevant to this project. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

A survey of microcystin in 187 Florida lakes was completed during January-December 2006. Annual average microcystin concentrations of the 187 Florida lakes ranged from non-detectable (< 0.1 microgram/L) to 12 microgram/L, with concentrations in individual water samples (862) ranging from non-detectable to 32 microgram/L. Only 7 % of all the individual samples exceeded the World Health Organization (WHO) drinking water standard of 1 microgram/L. Three individual water samples collected from two lakes (0.3 %) exceeded the WHO recreational standard of 20 microgram/L. Using chlorophyll concentrations and Secchi depth measurements, tables were constructed to predict the probability that microcystin concentrations would exceed the WHO standards in Florida lakes. Additionally, a study of six hypereutrophic lakes (Harris Chain of Lakes, Lake County, Florida) completed during September 2006-August 2007 showed that 40% of the samples were above 1 microgram/L, but none exceeded 20 microgram/L. Consequently, microcystin concentrations did not seem to pose a significant threat to Floridians because few lakes are used for drinking water and the WHO recreational standard was seldom exceeded.


  • No publications reported this period