The goal of this workgroup is to find solutions for the problems that can occur when working with volunteer data, and to improve states’ ability to accept and work with volunteer monitoring data.
This page will be used as a resource for state and federal staff, as well as for volunteer groups and other interested parties. Below, you will find resources provided by NEIWPCC and member states for volunteer groups, listed by state.
Connecticut implements a three-tiered system for sorting and using volunteer data.
Tier 1– Data typically are in the form of digital photos or written descriptions of observations. These data can be helpful as a record of an episodic event. Tier 1 data are not likely to provide sufficient information to formalize an assessment, but can provide supporting information when other data exists for a waterbody.
Tier 2– Data collected may not have been collected under a formal Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP). Tier 2 data are not likely to be enough information to formalize an assessment, but can provide supporting information when other data exists for waterbody.
Tier 3– Data are collected under a formal monitoring plan which follows a QAPP approved by DEEP or US EPA. QAPPs shall include laboratory tests to be used and data quality objectives. Standard Operating Procedures for field procedures and lab techniques should be explained as well as a plan for data management. Chemistry results should be provided from a statecertified laboratory. Taxonomic identifications should be from a taxonomist with sufficient experience to provide reliable taxonomic identifications, preferably with certifications by the Society for Freshwater Science and American Fisheries Society. Project objectives should be consistent with DEEP’s use of data for waterbody assessment purposes. Tier 3 data may be used to support use assessments.
The specific page for CT’s Tier 2 macroinvertebrate program.
The page for CT’s Tier 2 stream temperature monitoring program.
Links to presentations, annual program summaries, QAPPs, etc. may be found here.
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) welcomes help from outside groups to gather data on surface water quality.
You can find guidelines for submitting data to MassDEP here.
General guidance on completing a Quality Action Project Plan (QAPP), a necessary component to collecting usable data, can be found here.
Follow this link to get the MassDEP Volunteer Monitoring resource page.
Maine has the longest standing state-wide citizen lake monitoring program in the U.S. Lake Stewards of Maine (LSM), formerly known as Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program (VLMP), has been active since 1971. This group provides most of the lake monitoring data for the state of Maine and welcomes new volunteers, provides leadership training, and various other resources.
The Volunteer River Monitoring Program at Maine DEP maintains a QAPP and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which can be found here.
New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) utilizes the help of dedicated state-wide volunteers who offer their time to aid NHDES in their efforts. This network of volunteers is part of the NHDES Volunteer Lake Assessment Program (VLAP).
Information on VLAP can be found here.
A training section with a video and a link to the VLAP QAPP can be found here.
Other related publications, including the Field Manual found here.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has established the Water Assessments by Volunteer Evaluators (WAVE) program, which is a citizen-based water quality assessment based initative. The purpose of WAVE is to enable citizen scientists to collect biological data for assessment of water quality on wadeable streams in NY State. WAVE citizen scientists collect benthic macroinvertebrates from wadeable streams. Sampling can be conducted any time between July 1 and September 30. Participants collect riffle-dwelling benthic macroinvertebrates and preserve one or two example specimens of each macroinvertebrate type in a voucher collection. The WAVE coordinator identifies all macroinvertebrates in the WAVE samples to the level of family and uses these data to calculate a water quality assessment. More information about the WAVE program can be found here.
Rhode Island requests and accepts data and information to support water quality assessments, including from volunteer monitoring groups. Rhode Island strives to consider all readily available water quality data and related information in development of assessments of surface water quality conditions and identifying and listing impaired waters. Data must be of a certain quality and quantity to adequately meet environmental management and regulatory decision-making needs associated with these programs. Data quality requirements for use in the development of the Integrated Report on Water Quality are outlined in the Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology for the Preparation of the Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report (CALM). The current CALM can be found here.
Since 2003 Vermont has worked with watershed groups across the state to implement new and/or ongoing surface water monitoring projects for waters in need of water quality assessment by helping to alleviate the financial burden of laboratory analysis costs. More information on this great resource may be found here.
While not a NEIWPCC Member State, Arizona has a great number of resources for volunteers under their Water Watch program.
These resources include a citizen science handbook and Video Microlessons that are applicable to interested volunteers anywhere!