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Water: Water Quality Standards Academy

Basic Course: Supplemental Topics (e)

Program Elements: Collecting the Data

Monitoring and Assessment

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M&A Program Elements

» Plan:

  • Identify Objectives
  • Design the Project & Develop a QA Plan

» Implement:

  • Collect Data
  • Manage Data
  • Interpret Data

» Communicate:

  • Convey Results
  • Evaluate & Improve

The next step includes selecting core and supplemental indicators to assess water quality standards attainment:

  • Collecting data for a core set of indicators for each applicable designated use.
  • Collecting data for supplemental indicators selected according to site-specific or project-specific decision criteria.

Biological monitoring is the best integrator of multiple stressors/pollutants to indicate a problem. Follow-up monitoring and analysis are needed to identify the pollutant(s) causing the impairment. Supplemental indicators are used to determine potential problem areas (e.g., emerging contaminants, pesticides from agricultural production, excess sediments and nutrients from increased development or road construction).

The following table presents examples of core and supplemental indicators for the major designated uses:

  Aquatic Life Recreation Drinking Water Fish / Shellfish
  • Biological communities
  • Basic chemistry (e.g., DO, pH)
  • Nutrients
  • Flow
  • Habitat assessment
  • Landscape condition
  • Pathogen indicators (E. coli, enterococci)
  • Nuisance plant growth
  • Nutrients
  • Chlorophyll
  • Flow
  • Landscape condition
  • Trace metals
  • Pathogens
  • Nitrates
  • Salinity
  • Sediments/TDS
  • Flow
  • Landscape condition
  • Pathogens
  • Mercury
  • Chlordane
  • DDT
  • PCBs
  • Landscape condition
  • Ambient toxicity
  • Sediment toxicity
  • Other chemicals of concern in water or sediment
  • Health of organisms
  • Other chemicals of concern in water or sediment
  • Hazardous chemicals
  • Aesthetics
  • Other chemicals of concern in water or sediment
  • VOCs (in reservoirs)
  • Hydrophyllic pesticides
  • Algae
  • Other chemicals of concern in water or sediment
Resource. Over the years, local volunteers have become increasingly involved in monitoring efforts. Data collected by volunteers may provide valuable information that can be used, for instance, to supplement State/Tribal monitoring data. (Data provided by volunteers is sometimes considered “secondary data,” in contrast to “primary data” collected by the State or Tribe itself.) For relevant considerations, see the EPA guidance document The Volunteer Monitor’s Guide to QAPPs. See also EPA’s web page on Volunteer Monitoring.
Learn More. Who else besides State and Tribes monitor water quality? Proceed to the Learn More Topic. » (Note: This link launches a pop-up window.)

For informational purposes only–Not official statements of EPA policy.

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