Researchers looking for volunteers to monitor lakes
By Ayse Twit and Bethany Warner
Published May 6, 2005
Aquatic researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
are looking for a few good volunteers to help monitor
the cleanliness of local lakes.
Michael Lizotte, director of the aquatic research laboratory
at UWO, is hoping for 100 volunteers to go through training
on how to measure how clear lake water is in Lake Winnebago,
Lake Butte des Morts, Lake Winneconne and Lake Poygan.
“The idea is to have enough volunteers so we can span
out over these huge lakes we have,” Lizotte said Thursday.
The water cleanliness project is the latest in the string
of outreach projects at the university. UWO professors
studied water quality on Great Lakes beaches as part of
an effort to alert swimmers to dangerous water conditions.
“I think we need to keep (citizens) engaged in what’s
going on within the community. UWO has a positive impact
on the community at large, and it is critical that we
keep them updated,” said Todd Sandrin, a professor in
the Biology and Microbiology Department.
With cleanliness data collected by volunteers over a
few years, Lizotte said it could provide the data necessary
to get the lakes off the impaired water list.
Volunteers will go through a two-hour training to learn
how to use a Sechhi disk, a device to measure the clarity
of the water. At the training, volunteers will also have
a chance to discuss other kinds of research they might
be interested in, such as mapping fish habitats, taking
water samples or watching for zebra mussels or other introduced
Volunteers will be given a location on the lakes to test
once every week or two and track data. Lizotte said volunteers
should be reasonable about having the right kind of equipment
for being out on the lakes.
“The thinking is, something this big, everybody assumes
somebody else is doing it,” Lizotte said.
The Biology/Microbiology Department recently received
a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation
for high-powered tools to study organisms on a cellular
and molecular level.
The grant will also fund students across the country
to study at the college and do research throughout Oshkosh.
The department also gets funding from the Department of
Natural Resources and the Door County Soil and Water Conservation
UWO conducted water-quality studies in Door, Iron, Bayfield
and Ashland counties last summer and will continue the
process again this year.
Researchers tested for microbial contamination in the
beaches. City and county health officials used the data
to post health advisories or to completely shut down beaches.
“We take what we do very seriously. Our role is to reach
out and to do community service,” said Colleen McDermott,
co-chair of the Biology/Microbiology department.
Bethany K. Warner: 426-6668 or email@example.com.