Get Involved in Fisheries and Wildlife

Lakes of Missouri Volunteer Program

The Lakes of Missouri Volunteer Program (LMVP), funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and coordinated by the School of Natural Resources (SNR), serves to:

  • Determine the current water quality of Missouri's lakes.
  • Monitor the lakes for changes over time.
  • Educate the public about lake ecology and water quality issues.

Measuring Water Quality

Lakes of Missouri Volunteer Program

The aspect of water quality that most interests 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.

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 solid particles give the water a brownish color. The LMVP measures the amount of inorganic suspended solids in lakes where this is a problem.

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.

Knowing Your Lake

During the winter months LMVP staff meet with volunteers and present a data review report. This report details the findings from the previous sampling season. We also plan the upcoming sample season at these meetings. LMVP staff send out a newsletter three times a year to help educate volunteers about lake ecology and current water quality issues.


To participate in this program, you will need to:

  • Be able to visit a public lake once every three weeks between April and September.
  • Have one or two hours available during your visit to collect and process your lake sample.
  • Have access to a boat and appropriate boat safety equipment.
  • Attend a training session at your lake with LMVP personnel. All sampling and processing equipment will be provided to you at the training.

Region VII, US Environmental Protection Agency, through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, has provided partial funding for this project under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. LMVP is also supported by the University of Missouri.

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