Water Quality

Keeping the lake in good shape is a major part of what the Elkhart Lake Improvement Association is dedicated to doing.  Each year, ELIA monitors the health of Elkhart Lake by participating in the Wisconsin Citizen Lake Monitoring Network which is supported by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and designed to improve the effectiveness of lake monitoring across the State in order to build and maintain the dynamic picture of our natural resources. Working with the staff at the WDNR, professional marine biologists, and with volunteers to help make “Keep Elkhart Blue” a reality for all to enjoy.

The ELIA Water Quality Committee volunteers monitor Elkhart Lake’s water quality each year including disk data (turbidity), temperature (using a digital meter from surface to 95 ft bls) and dissolved oxygen data up to six times a year. In addition, we collected water chemistry data for phosphorus and chlorophyll three to four times a year. The water chemistry data is collected three or four times a year including the last two weeks of June, July, and August. Observations including ice-on and ice-off, water color, appearance and perception are also recorded as well as spring overturn (or turnover) which happens within two weeks after ice out. This allows us and the WDNR to assess the state of nutrient enrichment in the lakes. Click here for more information about the data ELIA collects.

The analyzed data results are submitted to the WDNR who help manage the extensive database and evaluate the data to prepare annual reports for Elkhart Lake. Click here for the 2018 Elkhart Lake Water Quality Annual Report. Elkhart Lake 2017 results continue to be static from previous years and the lake continues to be classified as a Mesotrophic lake -which is defined as containing moderate amounts of nutrients, and healthy, diverse populations of aquatic plants, algae, and fish.

ELIA has been monitoring Elkhart Lake for many years through grants and volunteer efforts. Refer to the documents section on the Caring for Lake page to access some of these reports and learn about Elkhart Lake. ELIA also participates in the WDNR’s satellite water program. This program originated in 1999 estimates water clarity on approximately 8000 lakes annually across Wisconsin. The WDNR depends on citizen-based monitoring for field measurements needed in satellite calibration. This powerful management tool that helps the agency monitor a large number of lakes in a cost-effective manner (less than $1 a lake). The large database supplied by this effort can assist managers is looking at the “big picture” with respect to Wisconsin’s changing lake conditions, i.e. how are lakes changing in different regions of the state, different lake classes, different size lakes? In the near future, we hope to start examining how lakes are responding to past and future climatic conditions and land use changes.