PRESS RELEASE: Multi-State Volunteer Effort Focused on Monitoring Lake Health Wraps Up Season

April 3, 2024
Samantha Martin

Samantha Martin




Media Contact: Samantha Martin | Director of Communications & Engagement | 330.524.2002

Multi-State Volunteer Effort Focused on Monitoring Lake Health Wraps Up Season

Lake Erie Volunteer Science Network Releases 2023 Data and Successes

CLEVELAND, April 4, 2024 - A Cleveland Water Alliance-led initiative spanning the entirety of the Lake Erie basin released its field season report, finding that the region’s watershed is overall healthy, with a few markers of note.

The Lake Erie Volunteer Science Network (LEVSN), comprised of watershed stewardship groups, local parks, and other nonprofit organizations, connects and empowers a diverse array of volunteers across several states and amplifies their collective impact on safeguarding our invaluable water resources. 

Established in 2020, the Lake Erie Volunteer Science Network is a groundbreaking initiative aimed at uniting community-based water quality monitoring efforts across the Lake Erie Basin. Spearheaded by Cleveland Water Alliance, LEVSN equips volunteers with the tools, training, and support needed to collect credible data, fostering a collaborative environment that bridges the gap between local actions and regional water resource management strategies. 

In 2023 alone, network participants engaged 143 volunteers in 3,196 hours of service to collect over 800 samples across 20 local watersheds. The network has partnered with professional scientists and decision-makers to create a robust program that can fill data gaps and inform management efforts across the Lake Erie Basin.

"The Lake Erie Volunteer Science Network allows communities to play a crucial role in Cleveland Water Alliance’s Smart Lake Erie Watershed efforts. Over the past few years, CWA has deployed hundreds of sensors throughout thousands of miles of telecommunications coverage, establishing Lake Erie as the largest digitally connected freshwater body in the world, but there will always be gaps in that data. The fact that people care about our water resources deeply enough to volunteer their time to fill these gaps is a truly invaluable asset. Ultimately, communities have to be part of the solution if we are going to steward our natural resources and grow our water economy,” says Max Herzog, CWA Program Manager leading the LEVSN effort.

The network’s 2023 report indicated that the rivers and tributaries in the Lake Erie Basin are generally healthy and support aquatic life, particularly regarding pH (how acidic or basic water is), temperature, and dissolved oxygen (the amount of oxygen present in water). Conductivity measurements, however, are cause for concern in some sections of the rivers and tributaries, but do not suggest that the rivers and tributaries are unhealthy overall. Some rivers and tributaries are healthier than others based on different parameter exceedances. Unhealthy conditions were most often event-based (e.g. during periods of drought), short-lived (i.e. observed during a single sampling), and occurred in smaller tributaries of larger systems that drained highly altered land, primarily urban areas or, in some cases, row crop farmland.

These findings are underpinned by the Lake Erie Baseline Assessment Framework (LEBAF): a set of standards for collecting, analyzing, and communicating volunteer-collected water quality data. In addition to the robust field season report, LEVSN has witnessed unprecedented growth and achievements within the network, including:

The collective will open its 2024 season this spring with a record of 21 participating groups.

A brief overview of the network’s progress and findings can be found here: [LINK]

The full report from LEVSN’s first standardized field season can be found here: [LINK]

For those interested in supporting or partnering with LEVSN, please reach out to Max Herzog with Cleveland Water Alliance at


About Cleveland Water Alliance:
Established in 2014, Cleveland Water Alliance (CWA) is a global leader in facilitating innovation for the water economy. Supported by a robust testbed infrastructure and world-class industry expertise, CWA leverages collaborative research and multi-sector partnerships to support market-driven innovation and sustainable solutions for regional and global water challenges.

About Lake Erie Volunteer Science Network:
Led by Cleveland Water Alliance, the Lake Erie Volunteer Science Network (LEVSN) is a regional community of practice that empowers community members to collect, share, and engage with water quality data for the conservation and enrichment of our Great Lake and all who call it home.

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