Water: Monitoring & Assessment
Monitoring and Assessment
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- Application of Elements of a State Water Monitoring and Assessment Program For Wetlands
- National Wetland Condition Assessment
- Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Conterminous United States 2004 to 2009
- Monitoring for Compensatory Wetland Mitigation
- Monitoring for Biological Integrity
- Funding Available
- Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) Approach for Assessing Wetland Functions
- Methods for Evaluating Wetland Condition
- 305(b) Water Quality Report
- Volunteer Monitoring
Application of Elements of a State Water Monitoring and Assessment Program For Wetlands
This document was prepared to help EPA and State program managers plan and implement a wetland monitoring and assessment program within the context of the March 2003 EPA document, Elements of a State Water Monitoring and Assessment Program (EPA 841-B-03- 003). It provides clarification and further information on how the original Elements document applies to wetlands. That document recommended ten basic elements of a state water monitoring and assessment program, and serves as a tool to help EPA and the States determine whether a monitoring program meets the requirements of Clean Water Act Section 106(e)(1).
National Wetland Condition Assessment
EPA and its partners are beginning work on the first-ever national survey on the condition of the Nation's wetlands. The survey will be designed to provide regional and national estimates of the ecological integrity and biological condition of wetlands. The process of designing and conducting the survey is also intended to help build state and tribal capacity to monitor and analyze wetland condition while promoting collaboration across jurisdictional boundaries.
Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Conterminous United States 2004 to 2009
The latest Status and Trends Report from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service represents a comprehensive and scientifically sound effort to track wetlands resources on a national scale. The Service has played a leading role in defining the biological extent of wetlands, implementing a national classification system, developing standards for mapping and monitoring wetland habitats and partnering with Federal and state agencies, Tribes and private organizations to track wetland changes over time.
Monitoring for Compensatory Wetland Mitigation
Improving ecological performance standards used to evaluate the effectiveness of compensatory mitigation projects was a primary goal of the 2002 Interagency National Wetlands Mitigation Action Plan. New regulations governing compensatory mitigation projects, jointly released by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2008, codify the requirement that all compensatory mitigation projects include objective and verifiable performance standards that are based on best available science.
2008 Final Compensatory Mitigation Rule (http://www.epa.gov/wetlandsmitigation/)
In 2006, NatureServe produced a report entitled, "Ecological Integrity Assessment and Performance Measures for Wetland Mitigation." It describes how NatureServe's assessment system was adapted for use in evaluating the performance of compensatory mitigation projects. The report includes detailed analysis of 18 types of wetland ecosystems. Relying on literature sources and field wetland manuals, NatureServe has identified indicators and metrics for assessing the ecological integrity of each system. They used 1) a standardized classification of wetland types, including diagnostic characteristics, 2) identified key ecological attributes and indicators of each system, with protocols for measuring those indicators to ensure consistent field measurements and documentation, 3) identified practical metrics with ratings based on "reference' or "natural" benchmarks, and 4) provided a scorecard matrix by which the indicators/metrics are rated and integrated into an overall assessment of the ecological integrity of the wetland.
The 2006 NatureServe report was formally peer reviewed by a panel of independent scientists. Based on the results of that review, a commentary was prepared to reconcile issues raised by the panel. The text of the original report remains unchanged because of plans for the preparation of a new revised version of the report
NatureServe Report: Ecological Integrity Assessment and Performance Measures for Wetland Mitigation (PDF) (57 pp, 1.2MB) - Includes science peer review commentary at the end of the report.
For report supplements on 18 wetland ecosystems, visit NatureServe's Ecological Integrity Assessments (http://www.natureserve.org/getData/eia_integrity_reports.jsp)
In 2008, NatureServe published their revised report entitled "Ecological Performance Standards for Wetland Mitigation: An approach based on Ecological Integrity Assessments." The report covers issues relating to the use of both watershed and site assessments to inform the development of performance standards. The report can be found on the NatureServe website (http://www.natureserve.org/publications/EPA-Wetland-Mitigation.jsp)
Monitoring for Biological Integrity
Accurate information is needed to measure the success of wetland protection and restoration programs and to integrate wetlands into watershed recovery programs. There is little or no information on the condition of our wetlands and no baseline environmental data to determine if resources are allocated effectively and actions taken result in environmental improvement. In November 1999, EPA's National Wetlands Program made the establishment of comprehensive state and tribal wetland monitoring programs a national priority. A workgroup representing the Wetlands Division in the Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds and all ten EPA regions was established the next spring to develop a national wetland monitoring strategy. Coordinating activities will increase monitoring efficiency and help ensure that chemical, physical and biological data is scientifically sound and geographically comparable. The use of sound data is essential to a comprehensive assessment of ecological health and achievement of the goals of our program and the Clean Water Act.
Funds are available to state, local, and tribal organizations to establish wetland monitoring programs.
Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) Approach for Assessing Wetland Functions
HGM Action Plan - Federal Register notice -Through the National Action Plan, the Corps of Engineers is announcing the strategy the Corps and other Federal agencies will follow to implement the Hydrogeomorphic Approach for Assessing Wetland Functions (HGM Approach) through the development of regional guidebooks. The National Action Plan was developed by a National Interagency Implementation Team.
For additional information on HGM, link to the Corps Waterways Experiment Station Home Page.
Methods for Evaluating Wetland Condition
EPA has prepared a set of technical documents to give states and tribes "state-of-the-science" information that will help them develop biological assessment methods to evaluate both the overall ecological condition of wetlands and nutrient enrichment (one of the primary stressors on many wetlands). These modules are a starting point to help states and tribes establish biological and nutrient water quality criteria specifically refined for wetlands. When the work is completed, there will be 20 modules addressing the topic. A fact sheet provides more information.
Hydrogeomorphic Wetland Profiling: An Approach to Landscape and Cumulative Impacts Analysis (PDF) (106 pp, 2MB)
Review of Rapid Assessment Methods for Evaluating Wetland Condition (PDF) (82 pp, 372K)
305(b) Water Quality Report
As required by Section 305(b) of the Clean Water Act, EPA transmits to Congress the National Water Quality Inventory Report (305(b) Report). Based on water quality information submitted by States, Tribes, and Territories, including information on wetlands, this document characterizes our water quality, identifies widespread water quality problems, and describes various programs implemented to restore and protect our waters.
Wetlands (PDF) (20 pp, 712K) - Chapter 6 of 305(b) Report
In conjunction with the Assessment and Watershed Protection Division, the Wetlands Division is determining the scope of assistance it will provide for volunteer wetlands monitoring programs. We expect this effort to aid States, Tribes, and non-governmental organizations in providing the skilled personnel to carry out necessary wetlands monitoring tasks.
"Starting Out in Volunteer Water Monitoring" (PDF) (4 pp, 837K) - brochure
Monitoring Wetlands: A Flexible Approach - Article in The Volunteer Monitor, Volume 8, No. 2. Fall 1996.
Preliminary Compendium of Volunteer Wetland-Monitoring Materials - The following list of publications and contacts is in the development stage; it is not comprehensive. The EPA Wetlands Division offers this as an interim guide to resources; at a later date we will produce a more complete compendium of resources including an annotated bibliography.
Volunteer Monitoring Home Page - This page addresses methods and tools to monitor, assess, and report on the health of America's water resources, and software and automated information systems to manage monitoring data.
Handbook for Wetlands Conservation and Sustainability - This handbook has an overview of wetlands ecology, functions, and values and provides a framework for hands-on activities to monitor wetlands health that you can follow directly or adapt to fit your local needs.
Wetlands Walk Manual (PDF) (10 pp, 273K) and Supplement Worksheets (PDF) (8 pp, 132K) - offers citizens the opportunity to become partners in learning about wetlands as a valuable resource and provides an opportunity to collect information and data which will help identify trends in wetlands health and location.
Volunteer Monitoring Organizations
Frogwatch USA: Monitoring Frogs for Fun and Science - Frogwatch USA was established in February 1999 to help researchers track populations of frogs and toads (AKA"amphibians"). It is modeled after the Frogwatch Ontario program. Volunteers across the United States collect data on their local amphibian populations by choosing and periodically monitoring a wetland site for calling frogs and toads.