Citizen Monitoring Newsletter June 2011

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Transparency Times

Newsletter of the Citizen Lake and Citizen Stream Monitoring Programs

June 2011

In this edition:

  • Welcome to Transparency Times!
  • 2010 CLMP and CSMP Report Update
  • Secchi Dip-In
  • Citizen Lake Monitoring Program News
  • Citizen Stream Monitoring Program News
volunteer - CLMP 1

Welcome to Transparency Times!

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Transparency Times, the combined electronic newsletter for the Citizen Lake Monitoring Program (CLMP) and the Citizen Stream Monitoring Program (CSMP). Transparency Times will replace the program’s individual newsletters, the CLMP’s Secchi Reader and the CSMP’s Stream Reader.

Transparency Times represents several new directions for our communications with you. First, we have combined the two programs’ newsletters into one. Much of the information that we want to communicate to lake and stream volunteers is relevant to both programs. Each issue of Transparency Times will have a section where this common information is found. In addition, each issue will have sections where we’ll include updates specific to each program.

Second, we have removed the recognition component from the newsletter and are publishing a separate volunteer recognition yearbook called Reflections. Reflections will be delivered to volunteers who have reached a five-year “milestone” in their monitoring, and will also be available on the website. By removing the recognition component, Transparency Times will focus on program news and updates.

Finally, Transparency Times will be primarily delivered electronically. This will reduce the cost associated with producing and mailing a paper newsletter. Paper versions of Transparency Times will still be available for volunteers who are unable to receive electronic communications.

We hope that you enjoy Transparency Times! We look forward to communicating with you in this new way.

2010 CLMP & CSMP report update

Exciting improvements will cause a minor detour in CLMP and CSMP reporting this year: volunteers will not receive 2010 Individual Site Reports (ISRs). The MN Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) strives to effectively communicate the condition of our lakes and streams to interested parties. To improve our communication with Citizen Monitoring Program volunteers and all users of MPCA volunteer data, we are working on a new, online tool to access CLMP and CSMP data and ISRs on the MPCA website. The  four page ISR is the report you receive each year that includes a detailed map of your site, a data summary table for the year, a chart that shows transparency throughout the monitoring season, and long term trend information, when available.  As we dedicate our time and resources to development of a Web-based reporting system, we will not distribute 2010 CLMP and CSMP ISRs. A 2010 CLMP Statewide Annual Report and CSMP Statewide Annual Report will be available on the MPCA website. We expect this new online reporting tool to dramatically improve access to the data that you collect. Hopefully, this minor setback in data reporting will be worth the wait.


Secchi dip-in

The 18th Annual Secchi Dip-In will be held from June 25th through July 17th. The Secchi Dip-In is an international program that
encourages individuals in volunteer lake and stream monitoring programs to take a transparency measurement on one day during the weeks surrounding Canada Day and July Fourth. This doesn’t have to be a special reading - you can report any readings that you regularly take for the CLMP or CSMP during that time period to the Dip-In.

The Secchi Dip-In provides a comprehensive glimpse of transparency at volunteer-monitored sites across North America and the rest of the world. Scientists and volunteers can get a sense of how transparency varies according to water type, regional geology and land use. More importantly, these annual Dip-In snapshots can be put together to form a changing picture of transparency over time.

If you are interested in learning more about the Secchi Dip-In, or if you would like to submit readings from your lake or stream, please visit the Secchi Dip-In website at

Citizen Lake Monitoring Program News

CLMP statewide summary and trend reports available online

Two Citizen Lake Monitoring Program 2010 reports are now available on the CLMP website: Select "Reports, fact sheets and newsletters" from the center menu. From that page you can access the 2010 Statewide Summary under "CLMP Annual Reports." The Statewide Summary provides a summary of the data collected by all CLMP volunteers in 2010, including an appendix which shows summary data for each volunteer.

In addition to the Statewide Summary, the 2010 Secchi Transparency Trend Report is also available under "Other Publications." This report provides a statistical trend analysis for each lake with at least eight years of Secchi disk data. We hope that you enjoy these reports!

CLMP sampling reminders

As you monitor your lake’s transparency this summer, here are a few reminders to ensure that you collect the most accurate data:
  1. If you’re able, try to take your readings between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on bright, calm days.
  2. To reduce the impact of glare, take your reading on the shaded side of your boat.
  3. If you are wearing sunglasses, remember to remove them before taking your reading.
  4. The “PC” and “RS” columns on your datasheet are for recording “Physical Condition” and “Recreational Suitability.” The PC and RS scales are located on the back of your datasheets. These should be recorded before taking your Secchi disk reading.
  5. Your Secchi disk rope is marked in feet. Red lines indicate ½ foot intervals, black lines indicate 1 foot intervals, and double black lines indicate 5 foot intervals. Round your reading to the nearest ½ foot.
CLMP Volunteer
Weekly readings help create a robust dataset, particularly for statistical analysis. If you’re unable to collect weekly readings, please try to collect at least two readings per month.

Thank you for your continued monitoring with the CLMP. Have a safe and fun summer on the lake!

CLMP coordinator on leave this summer

Exciting news from CLMP Coordinator Johanna Schussler: she's expecting her first baby this June. Johanna will be out of the office from mid-June through the beginning of September. Miranda Nichols and Dereck Richter will be responding to emails and phone calls throughout the summer. You can reach them by email at or by phone at 651-296-6300 (Twin Cities) or 1-800-657-3864 (Greater MN).

Citizen Stream Monitoring Program News

Switch to Secchi tube planned for spring 2012

The CSMP is switching to a new type of sampling gear called a “Secchi tube” in spring 2012. The Secchi tube is designed to function like the traditional Secchi disk used in lake monitoring: a weighted, mini Secchi disk is lowered into the tube by a line, allowing the user to raise and lower the disk within the same water sample numerous times. Our reasons for making the switch from transparency tubes to Secchi tubes are:
  • Using one standard-sized, 100 cm tube will increase the accuracy and credibility of stream transparency data. Volunteers who use 60 cm tubes on clear running streams report many transparency readings as “> 60 cm.” More exact readings could be captured with 100 cm tubes.
Secchi tube
  • All CSMP volunteers will use a 100 cm Secchi tube. This “one tube” approach will greatly simplify data collection and record keeping for volunteers, while streamlining data management and reporting for the MPCA.
Over the next several months, we’ll be developing new materials to make the transition easy for you, including complete instructions on how to use the new tube. A Secchi tube will be sent to each active CSMP volunteer in time for the start of the 2012 monitoring season. More information on the Secchi tube transition will be available in the coming months.