Why Monitor Streams?

Clean, safe, usable water is essential to all life. Unfortunately, there are a multitude of threats to water quality and aquatic ecosystems. Water pollution, varying from excessive nutrients, salts, heavy metals, and toxic chemicals all take their toll on urban and rural water quality. Increases in runoff from paved surfaces and land clearing also negatively impact waterways, as can deforestation and excessive erosion. Often, modern streams experience many of these factors which can lead to degraded water quality downstream.


Through different monitoring procedures, it is possible to detect many kinds of water quality impairment and identify probable causes so that steps can be taken to alleviate or correct the issue. Protecting and ensuring the health of our streams and watersheds is everyone’s responsibility. By monitoring water quality, citizens can take an active role in protecting water resources.


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!Water Quality Monitoring is the only Stream Team activity that requires training. Starting in 2021, becoming certified as a water quality monitor involves online training and field training*. Upon completion of the training, a monitor will receive equipment at no cost. There are multiple levels of certification:


Introductory Level - Monitors learn about watersheds, how to select a monitoring site, measure stream flow, and collect biological data. No previous training or education required.


Level 1 - Monitors learn how to collect physical assessment and chemistry data and refresh on biological monitoring.

Introductory Level training is a prerequisite.


Level 2 - This is a quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) training where monitors will strengthen monitoring techniques and verify equipment. Level 1 training is a prerequisite.


Level 3 - This is a one-on-one audit at a monitor's stream site. Level 2 training is a prerequisite.


To learn more about each VWQM level and register for training, click on the Levels below.


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.


  • Level 1

    Water Quality Monitoring Level 1 is the entry level of monitoring. This includes training for watershed mapping, site selection, stream discharge, biological monitoring (for stream macroinvertebrates), physical assessment, and chemical monitoring. The Level 1 training is a two-part training that consists of virtual training and stream-side field certification. After completion of the self-paced virtual portion, volunteers are eligible to attend the field training to become certified as a water quality monitor. Certified Level 1 monitors will receive equipment for measuring stream flow, biological monitoring, and chemical monitoring.


    Registration information

    View recorded training videos here

  • Level 2

    Volunteers who have successfully completed the Level 1 training and submitted required data are eligible to attend a Level 2 workshop.  This training is a quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) training where monitors will:


    • Check their chemical monitoring equipment to ensure it is functioning properly
    • Strengthen chemical monitoring techniques
    • Improve ability to correctly identify macroinvertebrates


    Once a monitor receives Level 2 certification, there is a higher confidence in their methods, technique, and commitment, so the confidence in the data is elevated  and can be used to supplement agency data.


    Level 2 and 3 monitors are required to recertify once every three years to maintain quality assurance and confidence in data submitted. Monitors may recertify by completing a Level 2 or Validation training.


    Registration information

  • Validation

    Level 2 and 3 monitors are required to recertify once every three years to maintain quality assurance and confidence in data submitted. Monitors may re-certify by completing a Level 2 or Validation training.


    The Validation training is a shorter, condensed version of the Level 2 training. This training is critical to ensure equipment is functioning properly, reagents are viable, provides confidence in the monitor's techniques. Starting in 2020 this training is conducted in the field by request  only.


    Data submitted by Level 2 and 3 monitors that have lapsed in certification will be assigned a lower quality control level. Please contact VWQM staff for questions or concerns of recertification.


    Click here to reqister

    Must have previously completed a Level 2 or Level 3 training prior to requesting a Validation training

  • Level 3

    Level 3 is the highest certification for VWQM. A volunteer who has successfully completed the Level 2 training and submitted 12 sets of all data is eligible for a Level 3 audit. This stream-side evaluation is one-on-one with VWQM staff at the monitor's site. To complete a Level 3 certification, the volunteer must successfully demonstrate all monitoring procedures and techniques as well as identify all of the invertebrates collected at their site. This training is conducted by request only.


    Contact streamteam@dnr.mo.gov to learn more or request a Level 3 audit.

    Must have previously completed Level 2 training and submitted 12 sets of all data prior to requesting a Level 3 training

  • 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 at VWQM level 2 or 3 and have submitted consistent and credible data. Opportunity for CSI projects are dependent on data needs and resource availability.


    Contact Stream Team at streamteam@dnr.mo.gov to learn more!


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Missouri Stream Team

PO Box 180

Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180


Phone: (573)751-4115

Toll Free Voicemail: 1-800-781-1989

Fax: (573)526-2767

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