Data about the Data
From the beginning, the LMVP has grown by word of mouth. In 1992, the LMVP started monitoring 4 lakes in the Kansas City area. That same year, citizens in Southwest Missouri wanted to be involved, so the program accommodated them.
While the LMVP's growth has not been rapid, it has been steady. In the first year, we monitored 7 lakes. Last season (2012), we monitored 63 lakes. Many lakes have volunteers sampling at more than one location. Table Rock Lake, for example, has 20 sites and Lake of the Ozarks has 14. Across Missouri, 126 lake sites were sampled by LMVP volunteers during 2012.
LMVP volunteers have collected and processed 10,722 water quality samples since the start of the program in 1992. That means over 20 tons of water have been hauled from Missouri lakes to Missouri kitchens to be filtered and frozen! Volunteers collected 852 samples in 2012 alone, more than twice the number collected 10 years ago.
2003 seems to have been a turning point for us. In that year we expanded beyond our "word of mouth" approach and initiated an effort to recruit data users to the program. The letter-writing and phone calling campaign resulted in the largest single-year increase of volunteers to date. The biggest gain was in public drinking water reservoirs, particularly those involved in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). The CREP is a program that retires farmland in the watersheds of sensitive drinking water supply reservoirs. Not only are more lakes being monitored, but the rate at which new lakes are added each year has increased. The campaign was so successful that we've returned to word of mouth recruiting to keep our growth rate manageable.
Our little program has grown up. It has been a fun trip. Here's hoping we keep going for another 20 years, at least!
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