SAULT STE. MARIE -- The Sault's Invasive Species Centre is looking to protect waterways this summer with the launch of its new community science program.

Called IsampleON, the program aims to incorporate community volunteers from more than 500 organizations in Ontario, to help identify invasive species in Ontario's lakes.

"Volunteers will be collecting and analyzing water samples on lakes and shorelines," said Rebecca Schroeder, Aquatic Invasive Species liaison. "They will then be sending them back to us where we analyze them for presence or absence of invasive mussel veligers."

Schroeder said volunteers will help keep the Invasive Species Centre proactive in protecting watersheds throughout the province.

Volunteers will be organized by the Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Association.

"Each of them has got a unique opportunity to be eyes and ears on the water and look out for our environment," said Terry Rees, executive director.

Rees said the program also incorporates public awareness, particularly around boaters launching from multiple lakes this summer.

"It means everyone who moves a boat from one waterbody to another has an opportunity to do their part to ensure they're not moving any water from one waterbody to another," he said. "Invasive mussels in particular can travel this way without proper care."

The Invasive Species Centre said that while invasive mussels remain an issue in many parts of Ontario, it will be focusing on 25 lakes from three watersheds.