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Protecting Our Lake

Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program

The Cooperative Lakes Monitoring (acronym CLMP) is a coordinated effort sponsored by Michigan Lakes and Stream Association, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Michigan State University, the Great Lakes Commission, and the Huron River Watershed Council.

Volunteers train with the above named entities at the annual Michigan Lakes and Streams meeting. They learn how to conduct a variety of tests that help to measure water quality. Following is a description of the tests that Deer Lake volunteers participate in:


Water clarity is measured by lowering an eight inch black and white disk into the water until it disappears. Measurements are taken weekly from mid-May until mid-Sept.

Spring Total Phosphorus and Summer Total Phosphorus

The greater the phosphorus concentration in the lake the more weeds and algae produced. Most lake management programs are designed to reduce phosphorus going into the lake.


Chlorophyll is a green pigment in plants. When measured in lake water it is an indication of the amount of algae in the water. Higher phosphorus concentrations in the water produce more algae which reduces water clarity.

Dissolved Oxygen and Temperature

During the summer, lakes with a depth of 25 feet or more will stratify into three layers. Each layer has unique oxygen and temperature properties. In many lakes the oxygen in deep water may be completely lost. Fish will not live in these waters and chemical changes will occur that can impact water quality in the upper layers.

Aquatic Plant Mapping (Exotic Plant Watch)

Plants are essential to lakes but sometimes they can become abundant and cause recreational problems. Some plants like the exotic invaders Eurasion Milfoil and Curly leaf Pondweed can be particularly serious problems.

Aquatic Plant Mapping (Full Program)

A diverse aquatic plant community in lakes provides essential habitat for fish and wildlife. Certain plants can become too abundant and that will cause recreational problems.


Summary of Deer Lake’s Involvement

  • To date four Riparians have taken the training.
  • In 2005 we began Secchi Disk Readings, Spring and Summer Total Phosphorus and Chlorophyll
  • In 2007 we included Dissolved Oxygen thru 2010
  • In 2009 we did the Aquatic Plant Mapping of the Exotics

These tests taken together help us determine the water quality of the lake. The results are published in the CLMP Annual Summary and are reported in a classification scheme that allows for comparisons. The indexes most widely used are Carlson’s Tropic State Index. They allow us to determine the state of our lake. This data if collected over many years is useful in documenting changes and trends. Most importantly this data assists us with the management of our Deer Lake.

The DLPOA (Deer Lake Property Owner’s Association) in accordance with the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program has been monitoring Deer Lake for the past 5 years, and below is a summary of the results.

Background and affiliates

The current program represents data collection of 220 Lakes in the State of Michigan. Standard equipment and metrics are used under the direction of the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Environment Quality (now referred to as DNRE).


Testing Requirements

Secchi Disk (Water Transparency)



Dissolved Oxygen & Water Temperature

Exotic Aquatic Plant Watch

Weekly, May – September

Early & Late Summer

Monthly, May – September

Monthly, May – September

Mid Summer


Deer Lake is the only Lake in Oakland County that participates in all of the above. Oakland County lakes that participate in some of the above mentioned testing are Hawk, Lakeville, Middle Straits, Orion, Parke, Taylor and North Buckhorn.

Methods & Results:
There is a standard measurement (Carlson’s Trophic State Index) that provides a comparison to the 4 stages of lakes. A good analogy would be the measurement of hurricane categories 1 thru 5, with 5 being the most destructive.

The Carlson metric identifies 4 categories: Oligotrophic, Mestrophic, Eutrophic and Hypereutrophic. The first (Oligotrophic) is a lake with minimal plant life, very pristine with high oxygen and low chlorophyll & phosphorus levels. Deer Lake is an Oligotrophic Lake. Moving down the scale to the fourth type of lake called Hypereutrophic. This is the worst condition and would be very weedy (beyond chemical control) high amounts of phosphorus and Chlorophyll and little to no dissolved oxygen.

Deer lake water quality is rare for a lake located in South East Michigan. Deer lake readings for oxygen, chlorophyll and phosphorus are excellent.

The DLPOA Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program Volunteers will continue to test our lake yearly to ensure we can identify any problems that may move the lake out of the Oligotrophic stage.

Information provided by DLPOA Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program Volunteers:

Sharon Hurlbert, Elizabeth Wagner, Rob Namowicz, Rick Gutowski, Fred Daris, Rick Remstad and Ken Gill

Higgins Lake (Roscommon Co.)
Lake Diane (Hillsdale Co.)

As you can see Deer Lake and Higgins Lake have plenty of oxygen. May 2010 readings for Deer Lake went to 55 feet and produce almost the same level of oxygen. Oxygen at 1 foot was 9.0 and 8.0 at 55 feet. Notice the zero oxygen level at 22 feet on the last example Lake Diane. This lake is in the Hypereutrophic stage. The DNRE charted our dept at 24feet and we always report down to 55 feet. We investigated and they will correct the depth reading at their next reporting. To see data on all 220 lakes go to and click on data exchange tab and then click on view data.