Water Module   
  Water Module - Overview

This is a guideline to help describe the quality of data produced by volunteer, student, and professional monitors and how Washington Departments of Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, and other agencies might use the data. Reading down the columns, each level includes requirements of preceding levels as uses become more demanding.

Note: A monitor may collect data "higher" in one column than in another depending on the project.

Freshwater Monitoring

Quality Assurance (QA) Guidelines Typical Activities* Education / Training General Uses of Data

Beginning / Level 1
Primarily educational, but data will be accepted.

No formal Quality Assurance (QA) plan required. EPA Streamwalk:

NatureMapping Fish in Streams
General field observations, including the number of taxa (diversity)*

Can identify salmon from other fish.
Brief orientation Educational, general awareness


Intermediate / Level 2
NatureMapping level of interest. Data submissions act as an early warning system for new or suddenly worsening problems or improvement due to restoration in a stream.

Basic written plan; purpose, parameters, methods, sites, schedule Color comparator kit instructions Field sampling, analysis using field kits, identifying and counting organisms to the ORDER level.

Can identify species of salmon
Volunteer, student or technician supervised by an expert monitor Educational, watershed characterizations, red flag or early warning:

Fish habitat restoration monitoring


Advanced / Level 3
Example: A Level 3 effort might find certified Streamkeepers following a written quality assurance project plan (QAPP), collecting samples and sending them to an accredited lab, submitting data to be considered for developing a 305(b) report.
Salmon Enhancement Group volunteers collecting fish tissue samples and sending them to a lab.

Formal QA plan**, all water quality tests needing lab analysis done at an accredited lab
Fish tissue samples sent to lab for analysis
Technical guidelines# Using calibrated meters for field measurements or following the APHA Standard Methods, collecting and analyzing water samples, identifying benthics to the FAMILY level

Fish movement (e.g., smolt traps, juvenile/adult passage), monitoring redd locations
Trained volunteer (e.g., Streamkeepers), technician with experience or training or a participant in an established volunteer monitoring program Screening level information, scoping phase of watershed approach; 305(b) Report, Best Management Practices (BMP) evaluation data, water quantity - flow data

Seasonal fish run counts.


Expert / Level 4
Level 4 monitors would probably used a calibrated pH meter, document their QA follow-through, and perhaps submit data for the 303(d)** list.

Follows formal QA plan and documents exactly how it is implemented, sample chain of custody Ecology technical guidelines## Toxic substance sampling, sampling for enforcement purposes, bioassays, identifying benthics to the GENUS/SPECIES level Professional - Qualified individual with degree and specific training or equivalent experience Baseline, impact and ambient assessments, action planning, data for TMDL's, TMDL assessment, permitting, compliance - enforcement 303(d) List.

* Order, Family, Genus and Species are important in field observations, but for some groups of invertebrates it is extremely difficult to go below Family. If you can identify down to the Genus level, please do so.

** i.e., meets 24 requirements of EPA's new Vol. Mon. Guide to QAPP, 1996.
# See References
## See References
303(d) List shows impaired and threatened waters that don't or probably couldn't meet applicable water quality standards.
305(b) Report shows whether waterbodies support beneficial uses such as swimming and fishing, or whether these uses are impaired.

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