Lakes of Missouri Volunteer Program
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About the LMVP:

The LMVP was created in 1992 and began with four lakes in the Kansas City area. Since then about 200 volunteers have participated and water samples have been collected on over 50 different lakes around the state. Many lakes have several sample sites. Table Rock Lake, for example, currently has 18 sample sites.

The goals of the LMVP are: 1) to determine the current water quality based on productivity or trophic state of Missouri's lakes, 2) to monitor for changes in water quality over time, and 3) to educate the public about lake ecology and water quality issues.

Measuring Water Quality

The aspect of water quality that most interests the LMVP is lake productivity. We gauge productivity by measuring the amount of algae suspended in lake water. Algae are small plants that provide food and oxygen for fish and other aquatic life. While some algae are essential for a healthy lake, too much can have a negative impact on recreational uses and aquatic life. The LMVP also measures the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in the lake. These two nutrients act as fertilizers, promoting algal growth. In some of our lakes, inorganic solids such as soil particles give the water a brownish color. The LMVP measures the amount of inorganic suspended solids in lakes where it might influence water clarity. All volunteers also take Secchi transparency readings. This is done with a Secchi disk, an eight-inch diameter black and white disk that is lowered into the lake until it disappears, thus providing a measure of water clarity. Lakes in our program have a wide range of Secchi values from less than 10 inches to over 16 feet.

Sample Analysis
The water samples are analyzed at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife limnology laboratory. An annual data report is compiled containing the results of the data from all of the public lakes, an educational section about lake ecology and water quality issues, and copies of the newsletter, The Water Line. This report is sent to all interested parties including the volunteers, government agencies and lake associations. To request a copy, contact us and let us know. You can also download the latest data report (in PDF format) from our News page.

Sampling Protocol

The process starts in the spring when an LMVP staff and volunteer meet at the lake. The volunteer is given all of the equipment and trained by the staff on the proper collection and processing procedures.

During the training session the volunteer will learn to:
1) Select an appropriate collection site. On lakes where there is only one sample taken, this site is generally near the middle of the dam and away from the shore in deeper water. On lakes where there are multiple sites, such as Table Rock or Lake of the Ozarks, volunteers choose sites that are conveniently located for them.
2) Collect and record field data. The volunteer goes out in a boat to the sample site and records surface water temperature, simple field observations, takes a Secchi measurement and collects 1 to 2 liters of water.
3) Process and store the water sample. The volunteer passes measured amount of water through filters provided by the LMVP and fills a 60 ml plastic bottle with lake water. These filters and bottles are stored in the volunteer's freezer until LMVP staff pick them up. Pick ups are done twice during the sample season, mid-season and at the end of the season.

©The Lakes of Missouri Volunteer Program 2021
The Lakes of Missouri Volunteer Program is operated by employees of the University of Missouri