Lake Partner Program

About the Program

The Lake Partner Program is a volunteer-based water-quality monitoring program for Ontario's inland lakes. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks coordinates this program from the Dorset Environmental Science Centre (DESC) in partnership with the Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations. Each year, more than 600 volunteers monitor water quality in almost 550 inland lakes at over 800 sampling locations.

Volunteers collect water samples and return them, postage paid, to DESC. All analyses are performed in the DESC Water Chemistry Laboratory. The resulting data are used by members of the public, partner agencies, government and academic researchers and private consultants to assess and report on water quality in lakes across Ontario. Total phosphorus, calcium and water clarity data are published on the provincial Lake Partner Program webpage, as well as Ontario's Open Data Catalogue.


Taking a secchi reading in a boat


Lake Partner Program volunteers collect lake water samples and make monthly water clarity observations from May to October.

Volunteers are sent kits that contain the bottles and equipment necessary to conduct water clarity measurements and take water samples. The samples are returned, postage paid, to DESC for analysis.

How to get involved

For more information or to find out how you can become a volunteer Lake Steward with the Lake Partner Program, please fill out this online registration form, or contact the Lake Partner Program directly.

Note that the number of water samples taken each year by volunteers depends on whether or not the lake is on the Canadian Shield. For lakes located “on” the Canadian Shield, water samples are collected in May (during the spring-turnover period), and water clarity measurements are taken once every two weeks throughout the summer. For lakes located “off” the Canadian Shield, one sample is collected each month from May to October, and water clarity readings are done at least once every two weeks. For more information, you can download our volunteer sampling instructions.

Lake Partner Program Instructions

 Guide to Interpreting TP and Secchi Data

 Volunteer Sampling Instructions

 Secchi Instructions for New Volunteers

 FOCA Lake Partner Instructional Video

Program Reports and Information

 Lake Partner Program Information

 Lake Partner Program Report Card 2015

 Secchi Summary Report 2017

 Calcium Decline Fact Sheet

 Blue Green Algae Information Sheet

 Guide to Data Interpretation


 Total Phosphorus PDF     Total Phosphorus Excel

 Secchi PDF     Secchi Excel

 Calcium PDF     Calcium Excel