Monitoring Component

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Watershed Management Process
Build Partnerships
Characterize the Watershed
Set Goals and Identify Solutions
Design an Implementation Program
Implement the Watershed Plan
Measure Progress and Make Adjustments

As part of the development of your watershed plan, you should develop a monitoring component to track and evaluate the effectiveness of your implementation efforts using the criteria developed in the previous section. Monitoring programs can be designed to track progress in meeting load reduction goals and attaining water quality standards. Measurable progress is critical to ensuring continued support of watershed projects, and progress is best demonstrated with the use of monitoring data that accurately reflect water quality conditions relevant to the identified problems. This section should result in element I of the nine elements. Element i is “a monitoring component to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation efforts over time, measured against the criteria established to determine whether loading reductions are being achieved over time and substantial progress is being made toward attaining water quality standards.”

The following components should be considered when developing a monitoring program:

Directly Relate Monitoring Efforts to the Management Objectives

The data you collect should be directly related to the management objectives outlined in your watershed plan. When developing a monitoring design to meet your objectives, it's important to understand how the monitoring data will be used. It is important to determine data quality objectives (DQOs), which are critical to ensuring that the right data are collected.

Incorporate Previous Sampling Designs

If you already developed a sampling plan as part of additional data collection efforts, start with that plan to develop the implementation monitoring component. The plan, which was focused on immediate data needs, should have followed the key steps in the monitoring process (study design, field sampling, laboratory analysis, and data management).

Monitor Land Use Changes in Conjunction with Water Quality Monitoring

In addition to water quality monitoring, land treatments, land use activities contributing to nonpoint source loads, and other relevant terrestrial activities impacting watershed water quality should be monitored.

Use an Appropriate Experimental Design

You can choose from many different monitoring designs, such as the paired watershed monitoring, upstream/downstream monitoring before, during, and after land treatment, and multiple watershed monitoring.

Conduct Monitoring for Several Years Before and After Implementation

You should conduct multiple years of monitoring both before and after implementation of your management measures to increase chances of documenting water quality changes.

Build in an Evaluation Process

When developing your monitoring program implementation strategy, plan for evaluation and reporting processes that will record change and provide the basis for appropriate modifications to the watershed plan. Monitoring programs frequently should be modified as they are implemented.

Useful Tools

Category:Monitoring Component Tools is an abbreviated list of tools that might be used to help with the monitoring component of the watershed planning process. Each tool has a watershed central collaborative content area (where the tools can be discussed and rated) as well as links to the actual tool.