The Secchi Dip-In is a demonstration of the potential of volunteer monitors to gather environmentally important information on our lakes, rivers and estuaries.
|A map of transparency in North America
based on volunteer-submitted data during the Dip-In,
The concept of the Dip-In is simple: individuals in volunteer monitoring programs take a transparency measurement on one day during the weeks surrounding Canada Day and July Fourth. Individuals may be monitoring lakes, reservoirs, estuaries, rivers, or streams. These transparency values are used to assess the transparency of volunteer-monitored lakes in the United States and Canada.
Dip-In volunteers use the Secchi disk, but we welcome the
participation of that monitor sites such as rivers and
estuaries where the Secchi disk cannot be used. If your program uses a turbidity tube, a turbidity meter, or a black disk, your volunteers can
A goal of the Dip-In is to increase the number and interest of volunteers in environmental monitoring. A volunteer monitoring program cannot long survive if information flows only from the volunteer to the agency. Volunteers need to be assured that their efforts are not only appreciated but are also a necessary part of the total monitoring effort. It is the premise of the Dip-In that this assurance is enhanced if the volunteer is a part of a national as well as the local effort.
The Dip-In also provides an international perspective of water quality. It gives a comprehensive glimpse at transparency at volunteer-monitored sites across North America and the rest of the world. Scientists and volunteers can get a sense of how transparency varies according to water type, regional geology and land use. What is more important, these annual Dip-In snapshots can be put together to form a changing picture of transparency over time.
The first Great American Dip-In began as a pilot study in 1994. During Dip-In '94 over 800 volunteers from six Midwest states: Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin participated, representing a 40% response from the initial solicitation. The results from the first Dip-In suggested that regional patterns in transparency did exist, appearing to correlate with land use and whether the water body was a natural lake or a reservoir.
In 1995, the Dip-In expanded to include volunteers across the entire United States and volunteers from estuary and river volunteer programs were also included.. Over 2,000 volunteers from 37 states and 2 provinces of Canada participated in this first year of the expanded program.
When the first Secchi Dip-In was proposed in 1994, we could only hope the project would make it past one or two years. Thanks to the support of volunteer programs and volunteers, the North American Lake Management Society, and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Dip-In database has grown to more than 41,000 records on more than 7,000 separate waterbodies (not including different sites, such as along rivers and estuaries). These aren't just statistics; these are records of water quality information gathered from around the world by volunteers. These are people taking time out of their busy schedules to provide an international picture of transparency and water quality. The Dip-In is the beginning of a volunteer monitoring network of networks, a virtual Web of environmental concern and communication.
Please click on our Results page to see some of our findings.
Dip-In is open to any program or qualified individual in the world that monitors transparency in rivers, streams, estuaries, lakes, or
Dip-In especially welcomes volunteer monitoring programs, since they
can encourage the participation of their trained volunteers. However, other qualified persons who are not part of an
volunteer program may also participate. We
especially encourage participation in regions where
there are no volunteer monitoring programs (See map above).
encourage programs to use the Dip-In to introduce transparency
monitoring to the Public, but we also use this data for scientific
purposes. If non-trained
individuals take readings, please report only values taken by a
If You Haven?t Participated in Past Dip-Ins, Why Not Participate This Year?
Get a sense of involvement in an international monitoring effort. Volunteers will be participating with other volunteers from around the world.
Establish a new volunteer monitoring program. If there is no volunteer monitoring program on your waterbody or in your area, you can use the event to start a monitoring program.
your own program. You can use the Dip-In to advertise your own volunteer
monitoring effort. Have
an event, such as the North American Lake Management Society?s Lake Appreciation Month, on your waterbody during the Dip-In. If you participate in the Dip-In, we will link to your program
and even publish a summary of your event on our web site.
Educate the Public about water quality problems. If the Dip-In gets the attention of the news media in your area, why not tell everyone about your program? What are the concerns about water that you would like to communicate to the Public in your area?
You can help us put together a picture of transparency across North America and the world, and we can help you communicate and educate in your area
For more information on the Dip-In, contact us at: RCarlson@kent.edu