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What’s a Certified Lake Manager?

written by
Linda McDonagh

Clarke Aquatic Services is dedicated to not just providing environmentally sustainable solutions for lakes, ponds, and other waterbodies, but constantly evolving our practices to include cutting-edge technology, products, and procedures that ensure our clients receive the best care possible.

As part of this, each of our teams works closely with our on-staff Certified Lake Manager, Ashlee Haviland.

What’s a Certified Lake Manager?

A Certified Lake Manager (CLM) is directly involved in managing ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and other waterbodies – as well as their watersheds. Lake Managers make recommendations for implementing best practices for overall water quality to the groups responsible for them, whether that is a government body, homeowner’s association, or a service provider such as Clarke.

But what makes them ‘certified’? In Clarke’s case, certification comes from the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) that requires all CLMs to maintain the following, ensuring that they serve with maximum competency:

  • Minimum of two years of full-time employment that meets the basic definition of a CLM
  • Courses from accredited colleges or universities allowing for the following:
    • Understanding of the elements and functions of aquatic systems training in disciplines directly related to aquatic science or engineering
    • Understanding of watershed features and processes which affect lakes, including training in the technical aspects of watersheds
    • Ability to communicate concepts, findings and recommendations to interest groups and governing organizations
    • Knowledge of the principles of business and management
    • Working knowledge of the governmental and legal frameworks as well as familiarity with the policies that affect lake management, including the processes for formulating and implementing laws and regulations

A comprehensive list of NALMS’ requirements for Certified Lake Managers can be found here.

Clarke’s Certified Lake Manager, Ashlee Haviland, M.S., CLM, Pioneering Tech Like BioSonics

Ashlee Haviland started her aquatics career with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Lake and River Enhancement program using hydroacoustics to create bathymetry, vegetation, bottom classification, and fish surveys. Since then, Haviland refined her skills in aquatic ecosystem strategies by authoring watershed evaluation and planning reports as well as providing solutions to improve water quality and lake management opportunities. Today, she continues to lead complex lake and watershed projects, pioneering leading-edge technology to do so.

Haviland works with each of Clarke’s teams across the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Florida regions to help oversee water projects and provide strategic recommendations and guidance. She also has helped to establish leading technology, such as the BioSonics Echosounder Mapping System. Haviland has over a decade of experience using the BioSonics unit for mapping and surveying lakes with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and her introduction of the equipment to Clarke has allowed our teams to provide much more data around vegetation, aquatic life, sediment, and more all within a single mapping session.

What are the Biggest Advantages of Working with a Certified Lake Manager?

As CLMs need to be in continual compliance with the thorough qualifications put forth by NALMS, they have in-depth, up-to-date knowledge of aquatic systems, watershed features, business management, communications, and the legal environment surrounding aquatic resources. That’s a lot. And much of this changes every couple of years – making it invaluable to have a resource to refer to.

Since CLMs undergo continuous education and have access to like-minded groups, they are also able to stay abreast of emerging science, treatments and technology.

For example, Haviland facilitated the use of the BioSonics Echosounder system. This equipment allows our teams to unearth much more knowledge about vegetation, aquatic life, sediment, and more all within a single mapping session rather than needing to carry out multiple mapping sessions with less capable instruments.

Likewise, Haviland’s expertise as a CLM extends beyond simple lakes or ponds. She’s also qualified to create Watershed Management Plans.

Why Should I Care about My Lake’s Watershed?

First, you have to ask, ‘What’s a Watershed?’. A watershed is an area of land that channels waterfall to all the bodies of water within it, eventually to outflow points like bays or an ocean. These waterbodies can include:

  • Creeks
  • Streams
  • Rivers
  • Lakes
  • Canals
  • Reservoirs

Watershed Management Plans are instrumental for identifying problems with and threats to water resources – guiding managers, policymakers, and community organizations dealing with lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands in their watershed.

This is also helpful for individual waterbodies experiencing reoccurring issues, as this may be due to upstream watershed issues. Often, these reoccurring issues are symptomatic of overarching problems affecting the watershed as a whole – by just treating the symptom, you may be dealing with the concern for years to come, or finding that they worsen.

What is a CLM’s Approach to Aquatic Services?

While this may differ with each individual Certified Lake Manager, Clarke’s CLM, Ashlee Haviland, says:

“I believe in a comprehensive approach to treat the waterbody and its root issues as a whole – not just the symptoms. My first step is to identify the immediate issues at hand, followed by digging in deeper to determine what is causing these problems. I then work with both Clarke’s operations team and the customer to create a treatment plan to handle this, followed by creating a more proactive, ongoing plan to prevent future problems.

Any actions taken in the treatment process should benefit both the ecosystem and the resource user – my goal is to enhance water quality and boost stewardship of the community’s resource for future generations.”

Looking for Management of your Waterbody?

Our experts at Clarke have years of experience working with a vast variety of lakes, ponds, stormwater ponds, and more, focusing on catering to their unique needs and goals and emphasizing using science-based techniques and technologies to do so. To learn more, contact our team here, or check out other articles such as