Lakewatch in Polk County: A Volunteer Water Program that needs YOUR help!

Polk County and Florida LAKEWATCH are looking for volunteers for 22 Polk County Lakes! Lakewatch is a citizen volunteer lake monitoring program that facilitates “hands-on” citizen participation in the management of Florida lakes, rivers and coastal sites through monthly water quality sampling activities.

A lakewatch volunteer in Lakeland, FL  demonstrates how to take a secchi disk sample.
Lakewatch volunteer in Lakeland, FL demonstrates how to take a secchi disk sample. UF/IFAS Photo by Shannon Carnevale

Florida LAKEWATCH was created by the state legislature in 1991 (Florida Statute 1004.49.) to:

  • enhance the level of scientific knowledge available about Florida lakes.
  • to help citizens and lake users understand and manage their lakes, and
  • to develop an educated, well-informed constituency.

Florida has over 7,700 lakes larger than 10 acres and likely more than 100,000 smaller bodies of water. Detailed scientific information exists for less than 10% of these lakes.

In Polk County, Lakewatch has sampled approximately 100 lakes over its 20-year history but few of them have continuous, long-term Lakewatch data. Because of this, we are hoping to add new Lakewatch volunteers to some of the program’s historical lakes.

Currently, there are 14 lakes with active volunteers. For 2018/2019, Florida Lakewatch is interested in adding volunteers to the following lakes in Polk County.

Florida Lakewatch’s “Most Wanted” lakes in Polk County
  • Ashton

    A women prepares an algae sample on filter paper for processing during Lakewatch training
    Preparing to process an algae sample. Photo by Ken Gioeli
  • Bonnett
  • Blue North
  • Cummings
  • Cypress
  • Dexter
  • Dinner
  • Eloise
  • Fannie
  • Gem
  • Halloway
  • Henry
  • Ida
  • Mabel
  • Mountain
  • Parker
  • Ring
  • River
  • Rochelle
  • Starr
  • Van
  • Wailes

How can you help Florida Lakewatch?

If you live on one of the “most wanted” lakes for this volunteer drive, have a functional boat or canoe/kayak, and are willing to donate approximately two hours of your time per month sampling your lake, please contact Shannon Carnevale.

Shannon is the Natural Resources and Conservation Extension Agent for University of Florida IFAS Extension Polk County and serves as Lakewatch’s local volunteer coordinator. Volunteers for Florida Lakewatch receive a sampling kit to use for the duration of your active volunteering. Please understand that we expect a one year (12 month) commitment from new volunteers, at minimum.

A women demonstrates to two men how to process an algae sample in the field as a part of Lakewatch training.
Demonstrating lakewatch sample processing. Photo by Ken Gioeli

New volunteers will take part in a two-hour Lakewatch volunteer training at their lake which includes hands-on training for taking and processing water samples. Volunteers are asked to sample their lake monthly and to deliver their frozen samples to one of Polk County’s Lakewatch sample drop-offs at least quarterly.

Your volunteer time is greatly appreciated and will be honored, annually, at the Lakewatch Regional Meeting which is held at the UF/IFAS Extension Polk County office in Bartow, FL. At the annual meeting, volunteers will receive an analysis of the lake samples turned in during the year and a summary of current water quality as it relates to historic water quality data.

Florida LAKEWATCH publishes a digital newsletter full of information for volunteer members and the general public. Check their recent issues, here!

Please feel free to contact Shannon with any questions you may have or view our volunteer handbook here:


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Posted: October 12, 2017

Category: Community Volunteers, Conservation, Natural Resources, Water
Tags: Lakes, LAKEWATCH, Shannon Carnevale, Volunteer, Water Quality

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