Why Monitor Streams?
Clean, safe, usable water is essential to all life. Point sources and nonpoint sources of pollution—such as industrial and municipal discharges, urban run-off, agricultural activities, and housekeeping practices—can contribute to the problem of degraded water quality downstream.
Protecting and ensuring the health of our streams and watersheds is everyone’s responsibility. It takes a collaborative network of dedicated and educated citizens all working together to understand and raise awareness about water issues, prevent water pollution, and improve water quality.
How do I become a water quality monitor?
It’s very simple, but requires some time and commitment on your part. The first step is to sign up for one of our Introductory workshops. Please note the registration deadline for each workshop. Space is limited for these training classes, so register early!
Can I test out or skip a workshop?
In short, no; the data collected by our volunteers is used by the sponsoring agencies and needs to be consistent in protocol. So unless a volunteer has been trained by the Program and is using our standard equipment, we cannot use the data they collect.
Do not be offended; this is a quality assurance measure for us. We have individuals from all walks of life, including engineers, professors, and our own staff that have gone through our training program. We will not accept any data collected by anyone that has not gone through our courses. This way we can say how our volunteers have been trained, what equipment they are using, etc.
What is VWQM data used for?
All volunteer data is used to establish baseline data on streams throughout Missouri, establish long-term trends, and locate streams in need of professional follow-up monitoring. Higher level data (i.e., Level 2 and above) is used to supplement agency-collected data for meeting Clean Water Act goals, such as evaluating best management practices, forming watershed management plans, and tracking performance of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) implementation plans.
The Introduction to Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring is the entry level of monitoring. This 8-hour workshop includes training for watershed mapping, site selection, stream discharge, and biological monitoring (for stream macroinvertebrates). The primary emphasis is education about watersheds and biological monitoring. Although most of the workshop is conducted in a classroom, a midday field trip to a nearby stream provides a hands-on demonstration of how to conduct stream discharge as well as how to collect and identify macroinvertebrates. After the completion of this workshop you will be provided the equipment necessary to conduct the biological monitoring. These workshops are offered in the spring each year.
Volunteers who have successfully completed the Introductory workshop and have submitted the Initial Site Selection form, Stream Discharge data, and Macroinvertebrate data, are eligible to attend a Level 1 workshop. This is the workshop through which volunteers are provided chemical monitoring equipment. This level of training covers physical monitoring (i.e., visual survey), chemical monitoring and reviews biological monitoring. Like the Introductory workshop, this class includes a midday field trip to a nearby stream where techniques to conduct a visual survey and measure water chemistry are practiced. Level 1 workshops are offered in the fall of each year.
Volunteers who have successfully completed the Level 1 workshop and submitted two seasons of Biological Monitoring, Water Chemistry, Visual Survey, and Stream Discharge data are eligible to attend a Level 2 workshop. The Level 2 workshop is a Quality Assurance/Quality Control Workshop in a laboratory setting.
Attending a Level 2 workshop allows the volunteer to:
Check their chemical monitoring equipment to ensure it is functioning properly,
Improve their chemical monitoring techniques, and
Improve their ability to correctly identify macroinvertebrates by obtaining assistance identifying unknown invertebrates from their
streams and confirming identification of invertebrates in their reference collection.
Once a volunteer attends a Level 2 QAQC training, we have higher confidence in their methods, technique, and commitment, so the confidence in the data is elevated and are often used to supplement agency data.
Due to the elevated confidence in these data, we always want to ensure we are providing the highest quality data to the sponsoring agencies and all other data users. To reach this goal and to increase confidence in the data the Program requires individuals to have their equipment checked at least once every three years in order to continue to maintain quality assurance and confidence in data collected by Level 2 and 3 volunteers. These workshops are usually offered during the winter of each year.
Due to the elevated confidence of Level 2 collected data, we always want to ensure we are providing the highest quality data to the sponsoring agencies and all other data users. The Program requires Level 2 trained individuals to have their equipment checked at least once every three years in order to maintain quality assurance and confidence in data collected by Level 2 and 3 volunteers.
Volunteers can either attend one of our regularly scheduled Level 2 workshops, or a Validation Training. This Validation Training is a shorter, 2½ hour session held during the evening. This training is critical to ensure that your equipment is functioning properly and your reagents are viable. We are confident this will also increase the volunteers’ confidence in their own abilities by providing additional opportunities to practice the chemical monitoring techniques, receive new reagents, and ensure their kits are functioning properly.
Individuals that do not attend one of the Validation Trainings or a Level 2 workshop within a three year period are still encouraged to collect and submit their VWQM Data. These data will still be used, but not to the same degree. Validation trainings are usually offered in the summer each year.
A volunteer who has successfully completed the Level 2 Workshop and submitted 12 sets of data is eligible for Level 3 evaluation.
The designation of Level 3 indicates that program personnel have evaluated the volunteer in the field at their monitoring site. In order to pass a Level 3 audit, the volunteer must successfully demonstrate all monitoring procedures and techniques as well as be able to identify all of the invertebrates collected at their site
This evaluation is scheduled through appointment only. It is strongly recommended that the volunteer request evaluation during a time of year they regularly sample macroinvertebrates. By doing so, the volunteer ensures the highest level of familiarity and confidence identifying the types and seasonally-changing sizes of invertebrates in their stream.
Contact Stream Team at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!
Cooperative Stream Investigation (CSI)
The Cooperative Stream Investigations (CSI) program fosters cooperation between the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), Watershed Management Committees, and volunteers in performing sampling for special projects. The primary (but not only) focus of CSI sampling is E. coli. CSI volunteers are trained to Stream Team level 2 or higher, and have submitted consistent and credible data. These volunteers also attend the MDNR’s Basic Sampling training. They are trained, along with agency personnel, on the proper protocols for collecting and handling of environmental samples, transportation to a qualified laboratory, and proper use of the chain of custody. The department provides appropriate sample containers and sample analyses are performed by the MDNR State Environmental Laboratory or an MDNR authorized laboratory.
Contact Stream Team at email@example.com to learn more!
Water Quality Monitoring Resources
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