Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP)

A Joint Project Between Protect The Adirondacks and the Paul Smith's College Adirondack Watershed Institute

There are over 3,000 lakes in the Adirondack Park, with fewer than 200 being monitored on a regular basis. Monitoring is important for understanding how lakes change over time, and is particularly valuable for developed lakes. The continued enjoyment of these lakes by property owners and visitors is heavily dependent on water quality, as is the value of shoreline property. Lake monitoring helps protect this resource we value so much.

The Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP) was established in 1998 to provide water quality data to shoreowners and to develop a comprehensive, long-term database of water quality conditions in the Adirondack Park. 2019 marks the 22nd year of the program. ALAP is the largest volunteer-driven water quality monitoring program in the Adirondack Park, and is a partnership between Protect the Adirondacks and the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI), along with more than 200 volunteers across the Adirondacks.

The information collected as part of ALAP is used to identify causes of concern that may need action (e.g. faulty septic systems) and to conduct regional analysis to understand how various stressors that impact our waters. For example, ALAP data was used to assess the effects of road salting on lakes in a paper that formed the scientific basis for discussions with state and local officials on curbing the use of road salt to protect our environment. 

How ALAP Works?

Participation in ALAP is easy. ALAP volunteers sample their lakes for three-month or and five-month periods. (Parties interested in enrolling should contact Peter Bauer at Protect the Adirondacks or Liz Yerger at the Adirondack Watershed Institute to discuss which sampling period would be best for them.) Each month participants measure the transparency of their lake with a secchi disk, collect a bottle of water to be analyzed for various chemical components, and filter a small sample of water for chlorophyll determination. The filter and water samples are kept frozen until they are transported to the AWI laboratory at Paul Smith’s College. Training for water quality measurement and sample collection is provided by PROTECT and AWI to volunteers prior to the start of their monitoring program.

See Simplified Instructions for ALAP Water Sampling.

Click here to register for ALAP testing.

Water samples are analyzed by AWI staff for pH, alkalinity, conductivity, color, nitrogen, total phosphorus, chlorophyll-a, transparency, chloride, sodium, and calcium.  The results of analyses are written into a report and provided to the public. Click here for the 2018 ALAP report. With this information, lake shore associations, landowners, community groups and government leaders are more informed to make decisions about the future of their waterways.

Participant Resources for 2019: Important Dates and Information

Here are important dates and information to assist ALAP volunteers in monitoring their lakes in 2019.

If you are interested in adding a new lake to add to our database, please contact us in the comment box below to make arrangements. Or, click here for an enrollment form.

Here’s important information for water testing in 2019:

2019 Sample Delivery System: In order to maintain data quality and laboratory efficiency it’s important that we get each month’s sample to the AWI lab promptly by the dates below. The lab is staffed and equipped for analysis on certain days. We are not able to process samples that are not delivered on time.

2019 Sample Drop Locations: We will use four sample drop locations in the summer of 2019:

1. Paul Smith’s College – Hours Monday-Friday 8-4 (and after hour arrangements can be made) Adirondack Watershed Center Institute/Poalozzi Center. Click here for directions Paul Smith’s College. Please contact Liz Yerger at AWI to arrange a delivery time: phone (518) 327-6174 or email at 

2. North Creek – Freezer location has changed. The new location is 105 Oven Mountain Road in Johnsburg. This  address is 5 minutes from the Route 28/Route 8 intersection. The freezer is located outside the building by the garage door. The office is .5 miles from Route on Oven Mountain Road (large brown domes with a large solar array). The phone number is 518-251-2700.

3. Blue Mountain Lake – Freezer is located in a brown garage at 3339 NYS Route 28. This is on the north side of the road, 0.9 mile west from the intersection of Route 28 and 30. Call 518-352-7627 if you have questions.

4. Old Forge. Contact Peter Bauer at Protect the Adirondacks for specific information at 518-251-2700.

5. Additional sample drop locations are being set up.

2019 Sample Pickup: We are developing a sample pickup program to ensure speedy and timely delivery to the lab at Paul Smith’s College.

2019 Sampling Schedule: In the 2019 sampling season we need to get all volunteers to try and perform their monthly samples during the same week each month and deliver them to the Sample Drop Location at the same time. Below are the sampling and sample delivering dates:

5-Month Sampling Season:

Sample between May 18-26th (samples delivered to drop location/picked up by May 27th)
Sample between June 15-23rd (samples delivered to drop location/picked up by June 24th)
Sample between July 20-28th (samples delivered to drop location/picked up by July 29th)
Sample between August 17-25th (samples delivered to drop location/picked up by August 26th)
Sample between September 21-29th (samples delivered to drop location/picked up by September 30th)

3-Month Sampling Season:

Sample between June 15-23rd (samples delivered to drop location/picked up by June 24th)
Sample between July 20-28th (samples delivered to drop location/picked up by July 29th)
Sample between August 17-25th (samples delivered to drop location/picked up by August 26th)

What Does Monitoring Cost?

In 2019, 3-months of sampling (June thru August) at one station in a lake costs $200 and 5-months of sampling (May thru September) costs $275. Testing kits cost $400, but only need to be purchased once or can be shared with another monitor. Kits consist of a Secchi disk to measure water transparency, an integrated sampler and bottles for collecting samples for phosphorus, and filtering apparatus and bottles for chlorophyll-a samples. Annual sample bottles and filters are distributed by Protect the Adirondacks every spring.

This is a very inexpensive, though professional, monitoring system because volunteers do the sampling all over the Park, saving the scientists a tremendous amount of time and vehicle costs. AWI compiles an annual report each winter summarizing water quality trends in each lake. When a lake’s annual report indicates a troublesome trend, a scientist from AWI will visit and speak with lake associations and/or monitors to consider what should be done to reverse the trend.

Contact Us

The best way for current volunteers to contact us with questions, or for people who are interested in joining the program, is to use this contact form:

Adirondack Lake Assessment Program Is A Joint Project of Protect The Adirondacks
and the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s College (AWI)

Protect the Adirondacks, Inc.
PO Box 48 North Creek, NY 12853
(518) 251-2700

Adirondack Watershed Institute
Paul Smith’s College
PO Box 265, Paul Smith’s, New York 12970
(518) 327-6213