Lake Mead Water Quality Forum
    Ecosystem Monitoring Workgroup

Member Organizations

Background and History

Webpage Links

  Calendar of Events


Formed in 2012, the Lake Mead Ecosystem Monitoring Workgroup (LaMEM Workgroup) is a sub-committee of the Lake Mead Water Quality Forum (LMWQF). Through it, various agencies and organizations conducting monitoring and research on Lakes Mead and Mohave share data and information with the goal of developing a holistic, ecosystem-level understanding of these waterbodies. The LaMEM Workgroup replaces the former NPS-led “Water 2025” meeting group and Systems Conveyance and Operations Program (SCOP) Boulder Basin Adaptive Management Plan sub-group, insuring the continuation of a framework for information exchange on topics related to lake and ecosystem health among the participating entities.

With the ability to store approximately 26 million acre-ft of water, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir by volume in the United States. Lake Mead supplies three “Lower Basin States” (California, Arizona, and Nevada) and Mexico. Its uses, several of which are critical to life in the West, are diverse, including the storage and delivery of municipal water supplies for approximately 25 million people and water for agricultural production, flood control, habitat for numerous fish and other wildlife species, world-class recreational opportunities, and hydropower generation. Lake Mead’s downstream neighbor, Lake Mohave, re-regulates releases from the Hoover Dam to provide for required down-stream deliveries, is the site of a national fish hatchery, serves as important habitat for fish and wildlife (including federally listed endangered species), and provides additional recreational opportunities. For these reasons, the health of Lakes Mead and Mohave are of interest to and the responsibility of multiple federal, state, and local agencies.

Within Lake Mead -- and particularly within Boulder Basin -- a variety of intensive water-quality monitoring programs exist that are required either by National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) wastewater discharge permits or related to the use of Lake Mead as a drinking water source. Preservation of water quality is of utmost importance to Lake Mead National Recreation Area (Lake Mead NRA) for the additional purposes of providing water-based recreational experiences and maintaining healthy habitat for wildlife. Ongoing regional ecosystem planning initiatives include the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s (Reclamation) Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program (LCR MSCP) and the Virgin River Recovery and Habitat Conservation Program.

The LaMEM Workgroup is composed of members of local, state, and federal agencies, which -- although they have differing mandates, missions, and goals -- are concerned with understanding and protecting the ecosystems of Lake Mead and Lake Mohave and their interrelated components. Participation is open to all interested individuals, organizations, local governments, and state and federal agencies.

Purpose Statement

Agencies participating in the LaMEM Workgroup share a mutual interest in understanding and protecting the ecosystems of Lake Mead and Lake Mohave and their interrelated components. Of particular interest is protecting and enhancing the water quality of Lake Mead for public and municipal water supply, aquatic life, wildlife, recreation, and other beneficial uses. It convenes a voluntary collaborative, integrative, ecosystem-level forum that supports individual member agency goals and objectives by:

  • Facilitating the exchange information, data, insights, and expertise through presentations, summaries, and syntheses;
  • Helping define ecosystem health for Lakes Mead and Mohave;
  • Examining interconnections between species and their physical and living environments;
  • Raising awareness of emerging issues, ecosystem threats, and changes to enhance joint preparedness for quick response;
  • Increasing awareness of participating entities’ activities and encouraging efficiencies through the coordination of effort;
  • Seeking applicable funding sources of interest and opportunities to leverage resources.
  • The LaMEM Workgroup has no direct management or decision-making authority. It does not obligate the expenditure of funds by any of the contributing agencies nor obviate any responsibility or authority of any of the contributing agencies.

    Areas of Mutual Interest

    The primary interest of the LaMEM Workgroup is research and monitoring in support of the Lake Mead Water Quality Forum’s Memorandum of Agreement objective to protect water quality for public and municipal water supply, aquatic life, wildlife, recreation, and other beneficial uses. Interest in aquatic life and wildlife includes all components of the food web, which maintain healthy native and sport fisheries and support aquatic dependent wildlife (e.g., avian species), and extends to sediments and riparian and shoreline-dependent native vegetation. Physical and biological stressors with the potential to disturb the health of the ecosystem are of interest. In addition, of interest to the LaMEM Workgroup are activities related to wastewater reclamation for return to the Colorado River System through Nevada’s return flow credit system.

    Geographic Scope

    The LaMEM Workgroup’s primary scope of geographic interest includes the waters of Lakes Mead and Mohave, their tributaries, and shorelines. Understanding the inputs of the Las Vegas Wash, Colorado River, Muddy River, and Virgin River are critical to understanding Lake Mead. Because the aim of the LaMEM Workgroup is to render an ecosystem-level perspective, the group is also interested in the dynamics, processes, and emerging issues within the watershed of Colorado River basin and the upstream Colorado River as well as downstream concerns.

    Presentation Topics

    Any topic that falls within the geographic scope and areas of mutual interest to this group is appropriate for presentation.

    Water Quality and Limnology

    Fish and Aquatic Biota





  • Lake Mead and tributary water quality monitoring (NPDES, SNWA, USBR)
  • Lake Mead platform monitoring (USGS)
  • Shoreline bacteria monitoring (NPS)
  • Lake Mohave water quality monitoring (USBR-LCR)
  • CO River salinity monitoring (CRC)
  • Algae Task Force efforts (ATF)
  • Colorado River water quality monitoring
  • Threadfin shad production (NDOW)
  • Lake Mead and Mohave sportfish assessment (NDOW)
  • Lake Mead razorback monitoring and studies (Bio-West)
  • Lake Mohave razorback monitoring (USBR and other agencies)
  • Adult quagga mussel monitoring (NPS)
  • Las Vegas Wash bird counts (SNWA)
  • MSCP Vegetation and Habitat Program and Land Cover Types (USBR-LCR)
  • Las Vegas Wash revegetation efforts and monitoring (SNWA)
  • ELCOM-CADYM  Model
  • Tributary character-izations and flood flow (USGS)
  • Volatile organic compounds (USGS)
  • Fish health/ bioassess-ment monitoring (EDCs - USGS)
  • Benthic ecology (UNLV/UNR)
  • Fathead minnow study (CCWRD and USGS)
  • Contaminants monitoring (USGS)
  • Veliger monitoring (USBR)
  • I-MAP monitoring (NPS/UNLV)
  • Anti-fouling efforts (USBR)
  • Selenium monitoring/ modeling (DRI)
  • Sediment contaminant studies (USGS, UNR, DRI)
  • Lake Mead avian monitoring (NPS/UNLV)
  • Frog habitat manipulation (NPS/UNLV)
  • Lake Mead NRA ecosystem health monitoring (NPs, USGS, NRCS, USDA-ARS)
  • Weed Sentry program (NPS)
  • For meetings and events of the Ecosystem Monitoring Workgroup visit:
    Calendar of Events
    Ecosystem Monitoring Workgroup Agendas/Meetings

    Forum Home Page