Proceedings of the 1998 NWQMC National Monitoring Conference


These Proceedings contain the presentations, discussions, and resulting recommendations from among nearly 400 participants representing monitoring interests from federal, state, tribal, local, academic, and private organizations. The conference from which they were taken was, in part, made possible by financial support provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Should additional information on any of the papers in Section III be desired, it would be most efficient to contact the individual authors directly. Other information regarding NWQMC authority, Council membership, additional copies of the Proceedings, the discussion or recommendations contained in these Proceedings, and future Council activities should be directed to Ms. Sarah Lehmann (U.S. EPA, 202-260-7021, e-mail: or Ms. Toni Johnson (U.S. Geological Survey, 703-648-6810, e-mail: 

Appropriate Citation: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1998. Proceedings of the NWQMC National Conference Monitoring: Critical Foundations to Protect Our Waters. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC. 663 pages plus appendixes.


 The National Water Quality Monitoring Council (Council) is indebted to Elizabeth Fellows (U.S. EPA) and Nancy Lopez (USGS) for their vision, leadership, energy, and generous contribution to the creation of the Intergovernmental Task Force on Monitoring (ITFM) and its subsequent evolution into the Council. The Council is also thankful to Ms. Fellows for being the first to recognize the need for a conference to focus national attention on the issue of monitoring. Chuck Spooner (U.S. EPA) and John Klein (USGS) are currently serving as co-chairs of the Council. The Council offers its gratitude to those who formed the conference planning committee. This committee, chaired by Rodney DeHan (Florida Department of Environmental Protection), designed the conference format, reviewed all of the abstracts submitted and, along with others who served as speakers, moderators, facilitators, track coordinators, and report-back chairs, worked diligently to ensure the success of the conference. The Council is also grateful to all of the environmental monitoring professionals who felt the topic of technical and programmatic coordination was important enough to submit papers and make presentations and prepare posters for this conference. Last but not least, heartfelt thanks go to the staffs of Tetra Tech and the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) whose dedication, creativity, and hard work provided critical technical and administrative support to the conference. The names of the numerous individuals contributing to the success of the conference are listed below (in alphabetical order):

Fred Banach, Connecticut DEP; Session moderator
Herb Brass, U.S. EPA; Session moderator; moderator and chair of discussion panel
Jeff Bryant, GWPC; Conference publicity, registration, and on-site logistics
Chi Ho Sham, Tetra Tech, Inc.; Session facilitator
Emery Cleaves, Maryland Geological Survey; Session moderator
Greg Colianni, U.S. EPA; Planning Committee member
Geoff Dates, River Watch Network, Vermont; Session moderator
Tom Davenport, U.S. EPA; Session moderator
Rodney DeHan, Florida DEP, General Conference Chair, session moderator
Dave Denig-Chakroff; Session moderator, report back chair
Jerry Diamond, Tetra Tech, Inc.; Session facilitator
Don Dycus, Tennessee Valley Authority; Planning Committee member, session moderator
Elizabeth Fellows, U.S. EPA; Planning Committee member
Linda Green, University of Rhode Island; Planning Committee member, session moderator
Ben Grunewald, GWPC; Conference publicity, registration, and on-site logistics
Joe Hall, U.S. EPA; Planning Committee member
Jon Harcum, Tetra Tech, Inc.; Session facilitator
Michalann Harthill, USGS; Planning Committee member, session moderator, and report back chair
Dennis Helsel, USGS; Session moderator
Elizabeth Herron, University of Rhode Island; Session moderator
Wayne Hood, Arizona DEQ; Planning Committee member, facilitator
Paul Jehn, GWPC; Session facilitator
Charles Job, U.S. EPA; Planning Committee member
Carol Keppy, CTIC; Session moderator
Joanne Kurklin, USGS, Executive Secretary of Planning Committee
Sue Laufer, Tetra Tech, Inc.; Session facilitator
Sarah Lehmann, U.S. EPA; Planning Committee member
Nancy Lopez, USGS; Session moderator, report back chair
Abby Markowitz, Tetra Tech, Inc.; Track Coordinator
Ellen McCarron, Florida DEP; Session moderator
Mike O'Neill, Utah State University/USDA; Session moderator
Paul Orlando, NOAA; Session moderator
Mike Paque, GWPC; Session facilitator
Amanda Richardson, Tetra Tech, Inc.; Track Coordinator
Andrew Robertson, NOAA; Planning Committee member
Steve Roy, Tetra Tech, Inc.; Session facilitator
Tom Sanders, Colorado State University; Session moderator
Lynn Singleton, State of Washington DOE; Session moderator
Dan Smith, USDA/NRCS; Planning Committee member, report back chair
Chuck Spooner, U.S. EPA; Session moderator
Sam Stribling, Tetra Tech, Inc.; Session facilitator
Fred Van Alstyne, New York DEC; Session moderator
Chris Victoria, Tetra Tech, Inc.; Session facilitator
Tony Wagner, Chemical Manufacturers' Association; session moderator
Robert Ward, Colorado State University; Planning Committee member; session moderator
Chris Yoder, Ohio EPA/U.S. EPA; Session moderator

Executive Summary 

The National Water-Quality Monitoring Council (NWQMC) was established as the successor to the Intergovernmental Task Force on Monitoring Water Quality (ITFM) in 1997 and is jointly chaired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey. It is charged with enhancing collaboration and coordination of water resource quality monitoring activities at the national, state, tribal, and local levels, as well as similar activities involving business and industry, academia, agriculture, and environmental groups. As part of these efforts, the Council presented the conference Monitoring: Critical Foundations to Protect Our Waters, with the specific goal of providing a forum for interaction among these groups, including the exchange of ideas, the presentation of reports on successful monitoring and collaborative efforts and indicator development activities, and the enhancement of communication and public involvement in monitoring. Through its efforts, the Council wants to highlight the importance of and support monitoring that provides knowledge of ecosystem quality, processes, and sustainability. It wants to emphasize the need for scientifically based indicators, designs, methods, and data management systems to allow meaningful communication to environmental policy and management decision makers.

There were nearly 400 conference participants, and approximately 100 oral and poster presentations were offered in 30 Apresentation and discussion@ workshops. The workshops were organized into four broad tracksCMonitoring Design Strategies, Methodology and Information Sharing, Indicators and Reference Conditions, and Linking Monitoring to Environmental Management and Decision Making. The objective of each workshop, following the presentations, was to develop a set of recommendations that would be forwarded to the NWQMC. The recommendations represent the direct input of the broadly based environmental monitoring community to short- and long-term strategies of the Council, and they will be incorporated into the Council=s work plan.

Several overriding issues surfaced throughout the discussions, including the necessity of defining data quality objectives prior to monitoring project or program design. There was discussion on the need to endorse and support development of regionally calibrated reference conditions using biological, physical, and chemical indicators. It was suggested that the Council take a leadership role in standardizing the performance-based methods system for increasing the monitoring community=s ability to share data and information. Associated with that, and also frequently discussed, was the proposition that the Council develop technical and programmatic guidance documents for network design, sampling methods, data analysis and interpretation of results, program development, and training. One of the most pervasive issues occurring throughout all tracks was the need for increased public education and outreach on environmental concerns, with greater involvement of volunteer monitoring groups.

Following are selected recommendations developed by the conference participants. In the proceedings document the recommendations are presented, in full, to emphasize priorities of conference participants. Below, however, in an effort to minimize redundancy, only those recommendations are presented that best capture the principal areas of concern.

Technical Guidance

Monitoring Program Design



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