Proceedings of the 1998 NWQMC National Monitoring Conference

Section II

Recommendations to Council

This section is organized according to the four broad areas, or thematic tracks, around which the overall conference was structured: monitoring design strategies, methodology and information sharing, indicators and reference conditions, and linking monitoring to environmental management and decision making. The 30 individual sessions each consisted of one to four presentations followed by a facilitated discussion. Recommendations to the Council came out of these discussions and are the result of direct input from the conference participants. The recommendations are intended as direction to the Council and reflect a recognized need by the conference participants for improvements in water monitoring. Just as important are the discussions that led to the recommendations, which can provide additional insight into implementation strategies. Overlap of topics and discussion exists among the tracks. For example, information-sharing mechanisms (part of Track B) are critical for linking monitoring results to environmental management decision making (Track D). Tracks were intended to enhance integration of topics, while at the same time channeling discussion to produce more substantial and focused recommendations.

Track A - Monitoring Design Strategies

Background and Issues

Monitoring program design is recognized by the Council as one of the most critical areas of the discipline of environmental monitoring. It is the foundation of monitoring to sufficiently and accurately address programmatic concerns and scientific monitoring questions. It is often thought of as the distribution of sampling site locations and the number of samples necessary to obtain a certain level of statistical certainty in answering questions. However, design is predicated on development of data quality objectives (DQOs) and includes:

  • Questions to be addressed
  • Indicators to be used
  • Sampling network designs needed to answer questions at multiple geographic and temporal scales
  • Appropriate sampling and analytical methods for different categories of pollution, such as nonpoint sources and urban stormwater and sewer discharges
  • Appropriate sampling and analytical methods for monitoring different types of water resources, such as groundwater, marine, coastal, and wetlands systems.

A portion of the discussion included focus on the integration of biological, physical, and chemical indicators into a multidimensional, ecological process-oriented model of watersheds and its importance for comprehensive understanding of watershed function and sustainability.

Throughout the Amonitoring-design-strategy@ discussions, several themes arose as common issues that led to development of specific recommendations, including: outreach and education; methods and protocols comparability; producing or sponsoring guidance on field sampling, laboratory analysis, and indicators; evaluation of existing work on monitoring watersheds; clarification of terms, such as multidimensional monitoring of systems, and monitoring multi-dimensional systems; and, finally, funding support.

Concerns and Topics

Presentations in this track focused on general topics and specific issues related to nonpoint source monitoring, monitoring in coastal and wetlands systems, monitoring urban storm water and sewer discharges, monitoring program design, and approaches to monitoring multidimensional watersheds. Outreach and education represented one of the biggest areas of concern raised during these discussion sessions. Participants suggested involving public agencies, citizen groups, and private corporate interests in defining questions to be addressed by monitoring. Articulating those issues leads to development of the monitoring program-management goals, and design of the appropriate technical objectives for data collection. The technical objectives of a monitoring program provide the basis for determining sampling site network design, data collection and analysis methods, necessary levels of quality assurance/quality control, and the sufficiency of data for answering management objectives. Public and private involvement in this process, especially during the initial period of question and goal development, will help ensure that past monitoring investments are considered and that monitoring results will be useful to decision makers and to public interests. Public input to this process allows monitoring personnel to develop the technical components of a program, thereby making it more responsive to public and policy needs as well as meeting the science-based dataquality objectives.

Several mechanisms for outreach and education were identified by participants. It was felt that the Internet should be used as a principal outlet for Council operational and technical information: web page(s) should link to agencies, public groups, or other pertinent interests, as well as provide access to documents, monitoring data, and results. Participants strongly felt that annual forums, such as this conference, should serve for the exchange of information on Asuccess stories@ and inter-regional coordination, as well as advertising the existence of the Council=s workgroups, committees, and new-member recruiting efforts. There should be focused effort on increasing the involvement and use of citizens= monitoring information. Part of a coordinated public outreach initiative could be developing guidance documents for defining monitoring needs and the technical objectives. The Council should also ensure that there are regional coordinators who have regular communication with their constituent states, tribes, river basin commissions, and other public and private groups through Internet home pages, newsletters, forums, or other media.

There was substantial discussion on technical issues associated with comparing methods, applying protocols, selecting the appropriate indicators, and ensuring that technical environmental indicators are tied to programmatic goals, including regulatory requirements (such as Water Quality Standards).

Detailed technical guidance is required for indicator selection; the design of monitoring programs for urban storm water, coastal, and broad-scale nonpoint sources; and coordination and consistency among multiple programs. Participants pointed out that there are numerous high-quality monitoring programs in coastal areas. However, coordination and communication among those programs is lacking, particularly among state, tribal, and federal levels. There needs to be increased emphasis on bringing together multidisciplinary teams, including technical (statistical, science, and engineering) and nontechnical (public citizens groups, private industry, and economics), to define monitoring goals and objectives.

There is a need to develop and test models for predicting changes in the health of watersheds using multidimensional models and other interpretive approaches. Such research should include definition of the data requirements of such models. Programmatic structure and statutory requirements, such as for total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), the Safe Drinking Water Act=s Source Water Protection initiatives, and the Clean Water Act=s biannual water quality inventory (Section 305[b]), need to be used to address or frame issues on multidimensional watershed monitoring.

One issue that surfaced repeatedly was that of the role the Council should play in identifying or securing funding and other resources for monitoring. It was recommended that the Council investigate a process for funding the establishment and operation of state-level or regional councils, as well as pursuing corporate sponsorship for education and outreach efforts.


Recommendations - Monitoring Design Strategies

1. Outreach and Education

  • Develop a strong Internet presence (Council home page) that will provide a mechanism for information sharing, data accessibility, and an avenue for initiating and enhancing collaboration
  • Ensure annual conferences for information exchange, trading of success stories, that would include training workshops and field trips to innovative projects
  • Publicize "Lessons Learned"
  • Pursue corporate sponsorship to increase and improve outreach capabilities
  • Sponsor/fund development of technical guidance documents for the monitoring community
  • Sponsor/fund program interpretation for the monitoring community, for example, an annotated version of the Clean Water Act

2. Comparable Methods and Protocols

  • Develop technical guidance on determining appropriate and sufficient levels of quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC)
  • Determine minimum components and measurement parameters necessary for assessing watershed integrity
  • Advise the Methods and Data Comparability Board (MDCB) in its effort to develop analytical methods for nonpoint source monitoring
  • Develop standard designs for data collection protocols, database structure, and metadata/data reporting

3. Sampling Methods and Indicators

  • Establish a forum or workgroup to facilitate development of meaningful and useful indicators
  • Produce a document that will guide users through decisions on comparability of sampling and analysis methods (catalogue of method performance characteristics)

4. Multidimensional Watershed Monitoring (MDW)

  • Provide incentives toward developing an integrative approach to MDW, using input from broad perspectives and areas of expertise
  • Implement multidimensional watershed monitoring not only to satisfy needs for natural resource management, but also to help monitoring entities meet programmatic and statutory requirements (such as TMDLs, Source Water Protection, and the National Water Quality Inventory [NWQI])

5. Funding Issues

  • Provide mechanism, or determine other opportunities, for funding the establishment and support of state- or regional-level water resource quality monitoring councils
  • Develop relationship with potential corporate sponsors of education and outreach initiatives.

Track B - Methodology and Information Sharing

Background and Issues

Sessions under this track focused on sampling and analysis methods and mechanisms for sharing information. Numerous issues are associated with field sampling methods and laboratory analysis and interpretation. There is also a broadly recognized need to increase the use of field and laboratory methods with documented performance characteristics and to initiate projects and studies from which the results can be compared or combined. This task is one of the principal goals of the performance-based methods system (PBMS) advocated by the Council=s MDCB.

Many of the methods/issues are captured under the heading of QA/QC. The statistical uncertainty of a method (needed for statements of precision and accuracy) is closely related to the performance characteristics of that method (required documentation for a PBMS). For example, as the uncertainty factors of data produced by a certain method are better understood, there are consequences to the potential design of a monitoring program using that method. This fact is true especially regarding the:

  • Number and location of sampling sites
  • Frequency and timing of samples
  • Appropriate sample and data analysis
  • Results interpretation
  • New data combined with data from other sources.

Concerns and Topics

Presentations and discussions in this track were grouped around the themes of data comparability and collection methods, QA/QC for monitoring programs, and tools for communicating monitoring results. The critical nature of defining DQOs for a program or method was recognized. There is no standard approach among agencies for DQO development. However, sessions within this track included discussions of formulating study or project questions, selecting measurement parameters, determining spatial and temporal sampling design, and defining acceptable rates of sampling and measurement error (statistical uncertainty), all of which are steps in the DQO process.

Other necessary steps are determining the temporal and geographic limits to which the study or project results can be applied and objectively defining decision rules for implementation of management or remedial actions. There was substantial discussion around the concept of performance-based methods comparisonChow widely recognized they are, and what is meant by the term "methods performance characteristics." The information required for PBMS is, in part, very similar to a portion of the information required for development of DQOs. The precision and accuracy of a method are part of the uncertainty measurements necessary for DQO development. They are also two of the performance characteristics that must be compared with the precision and accuracy of another method to help determine level of comparability.

Many participants felt that the PBMS concept needs to be supported by management and that the approach needs to be defined for both field and laboratory activities. In addition, management should fund projects to define the performance characteristics of a program's field and laboratory methods and compare the characteristics to those of other methods. The Council should define methods for reporting/documenting method performance characteristics, data quality, and associated metadata. There should be increased effort at coordinating the PBMS concept under development by the Council's Methods Board with that of the U.S. EPA's Environmental Monitoring Management Council. Collaboration between these two methods groups should produce:

  • A specific framework comparing the performance characteristics of two or more methods
  • Guidance on which and how many characteristics are necessary for decisions on comparability.

Participants felt that the Council needs to develop a PBMS Implementation Plan that details the mechanics of performing the comparisons, defines who (specifically) is responsible for documenting method performance characteristics, defines program certification requirements to be completed, and specifies who will pay for the work. The Council should take a leadership role in PBMS development to review and recommend a variety of reference methods that could be used for the basis of a national PBMS program. The Council (especially, the Methods Board) should become involved in the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP) on field and laboratory data quality issues and be involved in any kind of monitoring guidance. In addition to developing consensus on a formalized DQO process, the Council needs to increase its emphasis on QA/QC by developing a standardized approach to establishing a quality assurance framework and quality control activities and producing a format for writing QA Program and Project Plans. Some believed that a useful product of the Council and Methods Board would be a document highlighting Asuccess stories@ in data comparability studies and collaboration efforts. There was a very specific suggestion that the Council (or the Methods Board) should form a workgroup to address the issue of how to best use nondetect data in the analysis and interpretation of analytical, environmental chemistry.

As in Track A, there was substantial discussion on the need for public outreach and education initiatives by the Council. There were suggestions that the Council should view itself, in part, serving as a conduit for environmental monitoring information, through such venues as professional conferences, newsletters, and the Internet. The Council needs to establish a process for increasing training and education: evaluate and respond to federal and state agency and tribal needs; encourage data sharing, collection, and subsequent use of metadata; educate organizations and managers about data-quality issues. The Council can encourage use of private and public media (newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV), develop ways to publicize monitoring results (some methods for local, small-scale monitoring; others for broader-scale state or national efforts), and make media releases a routine process. Monitoring information could be used for educational spots on public TV or for demonstrations and presentations to schools. One interesting suggestion was that an approach needs to be developed that would provide understandable monitoring information to be provided to state legislatures. Part of the public outreach approach that was put forward was to encourage more local participation in the process of monitoring coordination and collaboration. Ways to accomplish this include connecting with more citizens' monitoring organizations, promoting/supporting state or regional monitoring councils, and developing mechanisms for establishing private/nonprofit partnerships.

Another suggestion was to increase the accessibility of data and monitoring results through Internet links, with mapped data (in geographic information systems) readily available to the media and the public. However, with greater ease of access will come increased potential for misuse of data and results. Some responsibility for understanding data limitations and uncertainty must fall on the user; but the data owner or supplier must ensure that sufficient metadata and other qualifiers are, in essence, "attached" to the primary data, including careful and specific definition of the appropriate uses of the data.


RecommendationsCMethodology and Information Sharing

1. Data Comparability and Collection Methods

  • Support the concept of PBMSs and define the approach for field and laboratory activities
  • Take a leadership role in developing, adopting, and serving as a clearinghouse for monitoring guidance, including sample collection, sample and data analysis, and data reporting
  • Coordinate with NELAP
  • Encourage and coordinate pilot studies that demonstrate resolution of data comparability issues
  • Promote initiation of regional, state, and tribal monitoring councils, including citizens= monitoring interests
  • Develop and disseminate outreach and educational materials to organizations and managers about PBMS, data quality, and QA/QC issues
  • Provide specific documentation of metadata requirements and reporting formats

2. Quality Assurance/Quality Control for Monitoring Programs

  • Assess laboratory and field methodologies to ensure comparability between methods that are intended to measure identical environmental characteristics
  • Develop guidance on producing QA/QC plans, including DQOs and specific QC activities
  • Promote and provide adequate education and training to ensure implementation of QA/QC programs and procedures

3. Tools for Communicating Monitoring Results

  • Develop routine educational and reporting activities that will reach the public, media, managers, decision makers, and elected officials
  • Sponsor and coordinate a national monitoring conference every 12 to 18 months, maintaining interactive features
  • Use Geographical Information System (GIS), the Internet, and other electronic tools for reporting data at multiple geographic scales
  • Develop mechanisms to enhance access to monitoring data
  • Ensure use of appropriate data qualifiers to prevent misuse of data and monitoring results.

Track C - Indicators and Reference Conditions

Background and Issues

An indicator is a measurable feature of the aquatic environment that provides evidence of ecological quality. Monitoring results on ecological indicators must be transformed from technically complex data into a form that is understandable to natural resource managers and policy decision makers. This task can be accomplished by using reference conditions. Reference conditions are numeric expressions of the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics that would be expected to occur at site with or without only minimal impairment. Indicators that use reference conditions as baseline or background for determining impairment were the foci of several presentations in this track, including the process for developing the indicators and the associated impairment decision thresholds, applying those indicators in broad scale and long-term monitoring and for short-term assessments. Indicators are intended to provide the technical description of environmental conditions that reflect ecological realism, rather than measurements of single chemicals using high precision methods that will likely have little relationship to ecological degradation. Also, there were discussions of indicators for wetlands systems and the U.S. EPA's Index of Watershed Indicators. In the five sessions in this track, it was felt that additional biological monitoring needs to be encouraged through guidance documents. All discussed the need for increased financial support for selecting reference sites and developing regionally calibrated reference conditions. In addition, participants felt that public outreach and education on indicators (and the work of the Council, in general) should be a priority.

Concerns and Topics

Developing measures (reference conditions) of ecological quality in a geographic and temporal framework allows indicators to be tailored to the range of environmental conditions that would be expected for a particular region. To accomplish regional calibration of indicators (i.e., developing reference conditions for a specific ecoregion and type of habitat), it is necessary to have a database of measurements from both a series of minimally impaired reference sites and sites that have experienced various levels of known physical or chemical degradation or hydrologic alteration. It is also important to have substantial experience working with aquatic communities in the region. Measurement and analysis by experienced professionals of environmental parameters (biological, chemical, or physical) from this range of sites and impacts provides the foundation for indicator selection and reference condition calibration.

Participants expressed concern that not enough financial and staff support is being provided to states, tribes, and other monitoring groups to properly develop reference conditions, including reference site selection, field sampling, and calibration of indicators. They suggested that a standardized approach needs to be endorsed by the Council, perhaps a re-endorsement of the multimetric approach, which in itself acknowledges the importance of biological assemblages and trophic pathways. There should also be specific effort to maintain flexibility for individual state programs, in particular, how biological or ecological indicators are used to define designated uses. The use of chemical indicators should serve to document chemical speciation, solubility, mobility, bioavailability, and the effects of these processes on the toxicity of mixtures. There was substantial discussion on the applicability of the Index of Biological Integrity (IBI), and how it is used to determine the effects of physical and chemical degradation on overall biological condition.

A recurring issue in this track was that the Council should fund development of a specific guidance document for monitoring network design that includes geographic scale, site selection, and land use/land cover considerations. It was also felt that active support of the Council for the development of indices of physical habitat integrity is critically needed.

There is currently a guidance document being written by the U.S. EPA for developing IBIs. Participants felt strongly that the Council should endorse and advertise the existence of the effort, and, potentially, help expedite its completion. Related to this were strong feelings that the Council should help advance scientific verification of the wetlands IBI procedures by supporting pilot studies for study design, field data collection, and data analysis. There needs to be increased collaboration among national and state programs, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' coastal wetlands restoration program. The Council should support development of, and provide funding for, regional and state workshops on biological monitoring in wetlands and workshops should be used to develop regional and public partnerships, including the establishment of state-level councils.

As in Track B, participants felt that the Council should actively promote the strengthening of QA/QC requirements for increased program documentation. This effort would include appropriate metadata, general and specific program characteristics, specific methods, and data/quality control limits, etc., to make datasets more usable to a broader audience.

Participants discussed various policy statements that should be made and formalized by the Council. They recommended that the Council aggressively support sustained, long-term ecological monitoring that transcends the changing of political terms. A workgroup should be established to develop guidance for a system of designated uses within a consistent framework among states; however, the details of specific use definition can and should be determined by the states themselves. It was suggested that the Council could provide policy support for assessment activities such as methods, index, and reference condition development. This support could be accomplished by providing a "letter of endorsement" to individuals or organizations that are applying for grants or contract fundingCthe letter could be submitted as documented support for their proposal. Another mechanism would be to ensure sufficient staff or financial support to accomplish tasks and program and project management. An idea was also voiced that the Council should develop a mechanism allowing indicator development and monitoring programs to acquire funds from regulatory enforcement actions.

Public outreach initiatives were cited as an overarching need. There was widespread confusion regarding the relationship of the Council to the ITFM, its precursor. A suggestion was made to distribute all ITFM documents to all conference participants (including nonattending registrants). The Council needs to work with academia to develop water resource quality monitoring and management curricula. Outreach to educational institutions should include land grant universities, USDA extension sites, and continuing education programs. Public outreach efforts should also include news releases, peer-reviewed journal publications, marketing booths at other conferences, brochures, and Internet web sites, etc. The Council should develop user-friendly outreach tools that communicate the accomplishments of the Council, its Methods Board, and the past accomplishments of the ITFM.


Recommendations - Indicators and Reference Conditions

1. Biological Indicators and Reference Conditions

  • Facilitate and sponsor establishment of a systematic and standardized approach for developing regionally relevant indicators with special emphasis on valid physical, chemical, and biological endpoints and criteria
  • Facilitate and sponsor development of guidance for determining reference conditions and the selection of regional reference sites addressing both spatial and temporal issues

2. Watershed Indicators

  • Develop an approach for establishing state and regional councils that would recognize watershed, and estuarine, and coastal zones, where applicable
  • Facilitate and sponsor development of guidance for monitoring network design, including consideration of geographic scale, site selection, and current and historic land use/land cover

3. Wetlands Indicators

  • Fund state-level workshops to increase awareness and enhance development of partnership efforts (e.g., state councils)
  • Endorse and help expedite completion of the wetlands IBI document and fund data collection for pilot projects verifying wetlands IBIs

4. Overall Recommendations

  • Develop compendium or database of methods for identifying or determining indicators and reference conditions
  • Encourage hierarchical organization of data and information among data gatherers, and transfer monitoring results in a format useful to natural-resource-use managers for adaptive management of lands.

Track D - Linking Monitoring to Environmental Management and Decision Making

Background and Issues

The overall design and organization of a monitoring program directly affects how results are communicated to management and policy decision makers. If a monitoring project is directed by a partnership among several organizations, each partner will own communication needs. If the data and information are being accessed by multiple monitoring groups in the partnership, capabilities to equally access the results need to be considered at the outset of the project.

This track included presentations and discussions related to the Clean Water Act programs, the NWQI (Section 305[b]) and TMDLs; Section 303[d]. Source protection issues under The Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996 were the topic of one session. Another workshop focused on the vulnerability of groundwater aquifers to contamination from pesticides and nitrates and the use of models to predict the potential or risk of groundwater contamination. Three sessions on successful program collaboration highlighted the continuing interest in partnering to maximize use of limited resources: working together to solve problems, building a better understanding of both water issues, and managing water resource.

Concerns and Topics

Most of the discussion in the sessions of Track D focused on one of three areas:

  • Linkages among monitoring organizations, resource managers, and decision makers; between potential partners and collaborators; and between the goals of volunteer and professional organizations
  • Communications for outreach and technology transfer: informing decision makers, educating elected officials, fostering a monitoring constituency, and publicizing the Council's role in monitoring
  • Technical nonpartisan leadership to support a national discussion on cross-program, cross-agency monitoring issues, to set standards for good science and high-quality data and information, to sponsor the development of state-of-the-art technical guidance to address the monitoring community needs, and to offer a forum to integrate monitoring activities that would serve broader management goals in addition to meeting program requirements.

Overall, participants in these sessions felt that weaknesses in existing datasets and the insufficiency of high quality monitoring information contributed to a continued lack of understanding of ecosystem vulnerability. These weaknesses have been the result of poorly or inappropriately designed monitoring programs or networks, imprecise and incomparable methodologies, and lack of commitment for long-term monitoring. One need identified was for the Council to focus monitoring design activities to make them more influential in future management decisions.

The Section 305(b) reporting process was seen as being insufficient to support well-informed management decisions and ineffective for prioritizing management actions. In addition, there was consensus that, in general, there is no broad-based constituency to support water quality monitoring in the United States. Lack of effective outreach to explain monitoringBand the use of monitoring resultsBto a broader segment of society was seen as a key roadblock in preventing the development of such a constituency.

Two approaches for correcting this are to promote the integration of volunteer monitoring with other types of monitoring activities and establishing the Council as a clearinghouse for organizing and disseminating information and data. In the TMDL session, participants looked to the Council to facilitate technical discussion and communications as well as to take on a role to evaluate the efficacy of the TMDL program as a water resource management approach as a whole.

The Council was asked to press for states to adhere to monitoring guidelines based on recommendations of the ITFM, including supporting the development of reference conditions, increased use of biological indicators, and improved collaboration among multiple programs. Participants also said there needs to be greater emphasis placed on appropriate formatting of monitoring data and assessments results so they can be meaningfully transferred to decision makers in Section 305(b), TMDLs, vulnerability assessments, source water assessments, stormwater protection, and other programs. The Council could serve as the coordinator among federal, state, and tribal monitoring entities to turn the Section 305(b) process into a useful management tool.

There was discussion on the widely recognized need for ensuring that monitoring programs are specifically designed to address stated monitoring goals. In part, this means promoting resource-based monitoring rather than strictly programmatic monitoring. For example, the definition of "water quality" should really refer to "water resource quality," so that it communicates not only water purity, but also the place of water in a properly functioning ecological system and its relationship to all aspects of watershed function. Resource-based monitoring and other goals-based monitoring may also be at risk where monitoring requirements to support the TMDL requirements that result from lawsuit settlements may completely take over state budgets for water-quality monitoring.

The Council should encourage the use of best available technologies for source water protection, advance the local database concept, and produce a summary document on current approaches for delineation of surface water and groundwater. The Council needs to develop a list of minimum data elements for source water assessments. For TMDLs, the council was asked to support technology transfer on TMDL listing requirements and TMDL development, to demonstrate need for and support long-term monitoring, and to encourage the development of technical capabilities to scientifically address processes and impacts of air deposition, groundwater, clean sediment, and flow.

There is a substantial need for the monitoring community to have access to information on successful monitoring partnerships and programs and technical guidance and information. Many participants felt that the Council would be an appropriate organization to serve as a clearinghouse - a "library" for monitoring databases, methods, geographic and analytical frameworks, and models. There needs to be a conduit for demonstrating management decisions that have been influenced by monitoring data and results. The Council could foster the collection of accurate locational information as part of the database library. It could also serve to actively solicit descriptions of successful partnerships and collaborative models and thereby enhance opportunities for collaboration, particularly between professional and volunteer monitoring groups.

The Council was asked to seek mechanisms to increase involvement of the public in decisions using monitoring data and other information. This step would include undertaking aggressive development of a public outreach program designed to increase the visibility of monitoring data as the source of useful decision-making information, and educating the public on the need for monitoring. Each Council member needs to see themselves as an ambassador for the Council, presenting its mission, goals, and vision at conferences and seminars. The Council must promote and advocate long-term volunteer monitoring, along with the supporting efforts to increase credibility of volunteer monitoring. There is substantial need for public outreach activities, such as topical workshops, informational brochures and newsletters, informational web sites, and continued national conferences (12- to 18-month intervals).


Recommendations - Linking Monitoring to Environmental Management and Decision Making

1. Linkage to Management Decision Makers

  • Increase the visibility of monitoring as the source of information useful for environmental management and decision making
  • Actively foster collaboration between professional and volunteer monitoring activities (regional or statewide councils, university partnerships, etc.)
  • Press monitoring groups to adhere to monitoring guidelines recommended by the ITFM
  • Promote resource-based, integrated monitoring approaches that go beyond only meeting narrow programmatic objectives
  • Begin the discussion to support integration of TMDL work with other state water-quality-monitoring needs
  • Specifically address development of appropriate approaches for formatting of monitoring information to enhance its use by decision makers

2. Clearinghouse for Monitoring Information

  • Provide access to information on successful monitoring partnerships and programs
  • Become a clearinghouse for standards, methods, databases, models, and analytical frameworks and promote scientific and technical credibility for information
  • Sponsor the discussion of issues and the development of technical guidance on air deposition, groundwater influence, clean sediments, and flow within the context of TDML development

3. Public Outreach

  • Council members should be ambassadors for their organization and more effectively communicate its goals, vision, and mission
  • Improve awareness of the Council=s functions and goals
  • Increase involvement of public in decisions using monitoring data and other information
  • Promote long-term volunteer monitoring
  • Develop and release regular informational brochures
  • Help inform and educate elected officials on complexity of technical issues related to TMDLs

4. Provide External Expert Review

  • Review the potentially very costly monitoring requirements that have resulted from settlements of the TMDL lawsuits and the impact on state monitoring programs
  • Evaluate efficacy of the TMDL approach as a management strategy
  • Develop and present a series of topical workshops on programmatic and technical subjects.

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