Watershed Monitoring BasicsWatershed monitoring data can be used for many purposes, such as to determine source(s) of impairment, to provide input for management tools such as models, and to support scientifically-based decisions for preserving or improving the quality of a water resource. Local watershed monitoring efforts may be done for locality-specific purposes (e.g. improved fisheries or recreation), but many are also designed to be compatible with state-level monitoring and have their data make a difference at higher levels. The way to accomplish this is to measure parameters the states focus on and use good methods for sample design, collection, and analysis.
The steps to watershed monitoring typically start with delineating the watersheds of interest. Once the geographic scope is delineated, the next steps are to define valued attributes, choose indicators of quality, establish monitoring protocols, generate data, perform QA/QC procedures, conduct the assessment, report findings, and influence policies and take actions.
This module focuses on water quality as an example valued attribute, and details the steps to consider when designing a watershed monitoring program. Keep in mind, however, that monitoring may target very specific valued attributes (such as water clarity) or in other instances may be very comprehensive in scope (such as the health of the entire waterbody).