LaRosa Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Analytical Services Partnership Grants

Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation

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Grant amount: Unspecified amount in in-kind support

Anticipated deadline: Feb 8, 2020

Applicant type: Government Entity Nonprofit College / University

Funding uses: Research, Project / Program

Location of project: Vermont

Location of residency: Vermont

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The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC), through the Vermont Agency of Agriculture /Environmental Laboratory (VAEL) - aka LaRosa Laboratory, is pleased to make available to interested lake, river, and watershed associations sample analysis partnerships for the upcoming 2018 field season. The purpose of this program is to help volunteer watershed associations and monitoring groups implement new and/or ongoing surface water monitoring projects for waters in need of water quality assessment. Groups are encouraged to present an action plan that will highlight anticipated outcomes of their monitoring results.

What are laboratory services?

Laboratory analysis is one of the most expensive elements of a monitoring program, and VTDEC recognizes that analytical costs hinder the widespread application of volunteer surface water quality monitoring in Vermont. Analytical services provided under this partnership program are essentially ‘slots’ for tests to be run at the LaRosa Laboratory, free of charge to participants. Analytical services provided under this partnership program are essentially ‘slots’ for tests to be run at the LaRosa Laboratory, free of charge to participants. The LaRosa Laboratory is a full-service analytical facility with capabilities for routine water quality monitoring tests. Examples of such tests include phosphorus, nitrogen, chlorophyll-a, total suspended solids, E. coli, turbidity, alkalinity, conductivity, pH, priority pollutants metals, and other compounds. More information about the VAEL’s services are available online here. This link provides information on staff contacts, training, laboratory fees, the Laboratory Quality System Manual and much more.

Applicants should note that no funds are disbursed through this program. Partners will be allocated a specified number of laboratory analyses, to be performed by the LaRosa Laboratory free-of-charge. The program will provide sample bottles and/or preservatives that are required for the intended tests.

What are the eligible project types?

Many project types are eligible for this program. Waters under evaluation should be of significant interest to the local association sponsoring the project, and to VTDEC-MAPP. Waters of interest to VTDEC-MAPP include those listed as stressed or impaired, state priority waters, potential reference waters, waters on which minimal or no monitoring has been performed in the past, waters with significant public swimming use, waters where a suspected water quality problem needs to be further documented, and/or waters where known problems remain undiagnosed. Please refer to Table 1 included with this RFP entitled “LaRosa Analytical Services Grant Monitoring Categories,” which includes information on the five typical LaRosa Partnership Program (LPP) monitoring designs that have been conducted over the years. The goal is to provide additional guidance for volunteer water quality monitoring groups and recommend a more standardized approach to sampling design.

Preference will be given to those proposals that have an implementation plan to address water quality issues to state waters. Proposals for new or existing multi-year projects will be accepted. However, continuation of existing multi-year projects is subject to availability of laboratory capacity, continuing need for the data, new modifications to account for prior lessons learned, and project performance and reporting during prior years. The LPP is not necessarily suited for long-term trend detection in streams due to the variability resulting from widely fluctuating flow conditions encountered in these waterbodies. Thus, existing projects that have already determined water quality issues persist need to demonstrate that direct steps are being initiated, in partnership with VTDEC-MAPP and community resources to solve the problem.

The Vermont Surface Water Management Strategy recognizes the tremendous importance of volunteer-based monitoring and has two monitoring goals.

  • To monitor and assess the physical, chemical and biological condition of Vermont’s surface waters to maintain, protect, enhance and restore their integrity and uses.
  • To interpret, analyze and communicate monitoring and assessment results within the Agency of Natural Resources and with outside groups to support the development of good management decisions for Vermont’s surface waters.

The Agency of Natural Resources recognizes that citizen led monitoring, through the LPP, is an excellent means to accomplish these goals.

As in prior years, pre-scheduling of sampling events will be necessary to optimize capacity at the VAEL. Due to limited laboratory resources that hampers the analysis of E. coli samples each day, this test is reserved for waters that are documented to have swimming use only, except on a case by case basis approved by the VTDEC LPP Coordinator.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Who is eligible?
    • Volunteer associations across Vermont are eligible for analytical partnerships.
      • Such associations include river, lake, watershed groups, and water quality and conservation committees associated with local municipalities. 
    • Post-secondary academic institutions and not for profit non-governmental organizations are eligible if one of the following criteria are met:
      • the project is designed jointly with a local association to assess current water quality conditions or diagnose a known water quality problem of interest to the local association, or
      • the project assesses the extent of, or diagnoses the cause of, a water quality problem of statewide importance. 
    • Educators from elementary, middle, or high-schools who are interested in water quality monitoring are encouraged to coordinate with the University of Vermont’s Watershed Alliance  or the EPSCoR Vermont Streams Project.
  • Typical LaRosa Partnership monitoring designs that have been conducted over the years are: 
    • Waterbody Status, Spatial or Temporal - Baseline monitoring/Stressor ID
      • has the goal of identifying the conditions of waters across a basin or related to a specific stressed, high quality water, or waters above and below a WWTF
    • Source ID monitoring spatial, temporal or flow based
      • has the goal of identifying sources of pollution impacting downstream waters.
    • Swimming Hole Monitoring - has the goal of monitoring active swimming holes to provide the public information as to when it’s safe to swim.
    • Evaluation of a treatment or management practice (Experimental studies) –
      • The LaRosa Partnership Program supports scientific studies conducted by, or in partnership with volunteer watershed groups
  • More information on eligible project types can be found here.


  • Activities not eligible under this grant program:
    • Transportation of samples to the LaRosa Laboratory currently on the UVM Campus in Burlington, as well as costs associated with sample collection (e.g., field personnel or vehicle/boat costs), equipment (e.g., Kemmerer, VanDorn, or suspended sediment samplers), and other project functions are not eligible under this program.