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VoluNteers in Action

Volunteering for LACA's Water Quality Monitoring Program 

These notes provide an overview of LACA’s Water Quality Monitoring Program (WQMP) and the projects aligned under the WQMP program umbrella. Please reach out the LACA Water Quality Program Manager if you would like to volunteer for one of these projects or if you have questions about a specific project.

LACA’s WQMP started in 2002 and we have been evolving our efforts ever since.  Today, the WQMP consists of three projects that LACA volunteers support in multiple ways.  Here is a brief overview of each project.  Each project has different timing and hourly needs – some much more so than others.

  • Legacy Water Quality Monitoring & Sampling project:  LACA’s legacy water quality monitoring & sampling project is the effort that was started back in 2002. LACA currently holds data going back to the 2005 timeframe. We are a certified Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Citizen Monitoring Program. We are certified to DEQ’s Level 3 category, which means our data can be used by DEQ in their regulatory efforts such as listing or delisting waterways as impaired.  We have a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) that is reviewed annually by DEQ and we are audited at least once a year by the DEQ Quality Control Coordinator. This project conducts monitoring & sampling with DEQ in April, June, August, and October.  We also meet in March before the year starts to get our instruments calibrated and checked out.  Each monitoring & sampling event consists of two days of activities. We meet on a Monday (normally at Callie Opie’s starting at 9 am) to go through a required training period for everyone that will be doing the monitoring & sampling that month. That session takes about 2 hours of your time.  We then meet again the next day, Tuesday, to go out on the lake and do the monitoring & sampling. The monitoring & sampling takes about 3 hours. Team Leads determine start times, but most teams start between 8 and 9 am. Everything is conducted according to a DEQ reviewed and approved protocol manual. The monitoring dates for 2023 are:
    • April 4th (training on April 3rd)
    • June 6th (training on June 5th)
    • August 15th (training on August 14th)
    • October 10th (training on October 9th) 
    • Cyanobacteria Monitoring & Sampling project:  LACA has been executing this project for the past four years. This project requires a great deal more effort and time to execute because we sample on a weekly basis and we do all the lab analysis on our own.  We focus on the upper lake, north of the 208 bridge, but will respond to member requests to sample on the lower part of the public side or on the private side.  Our normal monitoring & sampling day is on Friday, but our cyanobacteria mitigation & remediation efforts do have events during the middle of the week as well.  We go out on the lake in the morning and return the samples and data to our lab and analyze the water samples in the afternoon. Some volunteers only do the monitoring & sampling part of the effort, some only do the lab part, and others do both.  A normal sampling period on the lake takes about 4 hours.  It then takes another 3-4 hours in the lab. This is a major effort so we are always open to getting volunteers to support this project so we can “spread the wealth” across many volunteers to ensure we limit the amount of time you need to commit to the project. You can read more about this effort here.
    • Virginia Save Our Streams project:  The Virginia Save Our Streams program is part of the Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA) effort that has a fifty-year history of monitoring the health of rivers, streams, and creeks across the United States. The IWLA program began in 1969 with volunteers cleaning up trash from their local waterways and reporting problems like streams becoming clogged with silt. LACA’s project started last year and we currently are monitoring 3 stations in the watershed and we hope to expand that number to 4 or 5 over the next few years. This project requires training and certification by the IWLA.  Once you are certified you can support our efforts when we sample in the spring (dates are between March and May) and then again in the fall (dates between September and October). There is an up-front commitment of time to get trained and certified but after that it takes one Saturday morning in the spring and fall to execute this program.  You can learn more here.  We also support an Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (ACB) program that is related to the Virginia Save Our Streams program.  The ACB effort does not require the training and certification of the IWLA program but we do many of the same things in terms of the sampling protocol.  The ACB effort is also conducted on Saturdays in the spring and fall.

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