WaterWare: a Water Resources Management Information System
Water Quality Monitoring Program
Elements of a River Basin Water Monitoring and Assessment Program
Monitoring is an important element of water resources management.
The efficient monitoring of water quality requires a well structured plan and strategy,
elements of which are defined in national legislation, e.g., for the US under .....
or the countries of the European Union by the
Water Famework Directive (2000/60/EC), and
WFD review article.
The following 10 point are based on a USEPA document: ..........
- Monitoring Program Strategy
The Monitoring Program should follow a clear mission statement specifying the objectives,
clearly describing (enumerating) the geographical scope,
and defining a time line for the objectives specified.`
It is important that the strategy be comprehensive in scope and identify
the technical issues and resource needs that are currently impediments
to an adequate monitoring program.
- Monitoring Objectives
The program must identify the monitoring objectives critical to the
design of a monitoring program that is efficient and effective in generating
data that serve management decision needs and meets all the applicable regulatory
and reporting requirements under international agreements.
For example, monitoring objectives could include helping establish water quality standards,
determining water quality status and trends, identifying impaired waters,
identifying causes and sources of water quality problems,
implementing water quality management programs, and evaluating program effectiveness.
Consistent with the regulatory framework, monitoring objectives should reflect the
decision needs relevant to all types of waters within a river basin.
- Monitoring Design
An approach and rationale for selection of monitoring designs and sample sites
that best serve the monitoring objectives must be explicitly defined.
The monitoring program may integrate several monitoring designs
(e.g., fixed station, intensive and screening-level monitoring,
event driven and ad hoc sampling) to meet the full range of decision needs.
The monitoring design should include a consideration of probabilities of flow and loads,
for making statistically valid inferences about the condition of all water types
in the basin, over time.
- Core and Supplemental Water Quality Indicators
The monitoring plan should use a tiered approach to monitoring that includes core indicators
selected to represent each applicable designated use, plus supplemental indicators selected
according to site-specific or project-specific decision criteria.
Core indicators for each water resource type include physical/habitat, chemical/toxicological,
and biological/ecological endpoints as appropriate, and can be used routinely
to assess attainment with applicable water quality standards.
Standard water quality parameters that mostly also lend themselves to continuous,
automatic monitoring include:
- temperature, conductivity, turbidity, TSS, p02, BOD, nitrate, phosphate, coliforms.
Priority substances are defined in the EU Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC.
This is based on A combined monitoring-based and modelling-based priority setting (COMMPS)
The main part, Revised proposal for a list of priority substances in the context
of the water framework directive (COMMPS procedure) can downloaded as a PDF files
(Report - 480K;
Annex - 880K).
Supplemental indicators are used when there is a reasonable expectation that a
specific pollutant may be present in a watershed, when core indicators indicate
impairment, or to support a special study such as screening for potential pollutants of concern.
- Quality Assurance
Quality management plans and quality assurance program/project plans are established,
maintained, and peer reviewed in accordance with national policy to ensure the scientific
validity of monitoring and laboratory activities, and to ensure that national and international
reporting requirements are met.
- Data Management
Data should be managed in an accessible electronic data system for water quality,
fish tissue, toxicity, sediment chemistry, habitat, biological data, with timely
data entry (following appropriate metadata and georeferencing standards)
and public access, preferably on-line through the Internet.
The water quality data must be stored in a format and structure compatible
will all other hydro-meteorological information.
- Data Analysis/Assessment
The plan must include a methodology for assessing attainment of water quality standards
based on analysis of various types of data (chemical, physical, biological, land use)
from various sources, for all waterbody types and all waters.
The methodology includes criteria for compiling, analyzing, and integrating all readily
available and existing information (e.g., volunteer monitoring data,
discharge monitoring reports).
Under the plan, timely and complete water quality reports and lists called
for under the applicable regulations must be compiled.
Possible examples include the EU Water Framework Directive
2000/60/EC or the USEPA "2002 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment
Report Guidance" (November 19, 2001), to encourage integration and consistency in
the development and submission of water quality reports.
- Programmatic Evaluation
Periodic reviews of each aspect of the monitoring program should be3 conducted
to determine how well the program serves its water quality decision needs for all waters,
including all waterbody types. This should involve evaluating the monitoring program
to determine how well each of the elements is addressed and determining how needed
changes and additions are incorporated into future monitoring cycles.
- General Support and Infrastructure Planning
Current and future resource needs must be identified to fully implement the monitoring
program strategy. This needs assessment should describe funding, staff, training,
laboratory resources, and upcoming improvements, including any international commitments
for data exchange and reporting.