What is the Secchi Dip-In?

A map of transparency in North America based on volunteer-submitted data during the Dip-In, 1994-2002.

A map of transparency in North America based on volunteer-submitted data during the Dip-In, 1994-2002.

The Robert Carlson Secchi Dip-In is a demonstration of the potential of volunteer monitors to gather environmentally important information on our lakes, rivers and estuaries.

The concept of the Dip-In is simple: individuals in volunteer monitoring programs take a transparency measurement on one day during the month of July. 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.

Most Dip-In volunteers use the Secchi disk, but we welcome the participation of volunteers who 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 participate.

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.


How Do Programs Participate?

The Dip-In is open to any program or qualified individual in the world that monitors transparency in rivers, streams, estuaries, lakes, or reservoirs. The 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 organized volunteer program may also participate. We encourage participation in regions where there are no volunteer monitoring programs (See map above).

We 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 trained supervisor.

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.

Advertise 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 Lakes 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 website.

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: secchidipin@nalms.org