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Group Citizen Science Monitoring Plan

Group Citizen Science Monitoring Plan

Please note, the form below should be filled out if your group of Texas Stream Team Citizen Scientists is ready to start monitoring water quality.

Groups are vital to citizen science monitoring for several reasons. 1) Sharing the responsibilities will make the workload more manageable. 2) Should an individual retire from monitoring, the group will be more effective at take over the monitoring site, and 3) multiple monitoring locations provide a better understanding of the water quality and the environment.

Developing this plan involves filling leadership positions and working with Texas Stream Team or partner organization staff to determine the appropriate monitoring locations. There are three leadership positions for a citizen scientist group: Training Coordinator/Quality Assurance Officer (QAO), Data Coordinator, and Equipment Coordinator. A Training Coordinator/QAO is required of each group. One person may fill two positions, but it is mandatory that the Training Coordinator/QAO and Data Coordinator are filled by different people.

Group Information

Training Coordinator/QAO: Responsibilities include serving as the primary point of contact for Texas Stream Team or partner organizations, schedules citizen scientist trainings and notifies Texas Stream Team of scheduled trainings, recruits interested participants for trainings, and submits training materials to Texas Stream Team. Additionally, the Training Coordinator serves as the QAO and conducts quality control sessions with citizen scientists every two-years. Additionally, Trainers are required to attend the annual Texas Stream Team meeting or send an alternate if unable to attend.

How often do you plan to hold trainings (check one): *

Data Coordinator: Responsibilities include collecting monitoring forms from group monitors and uploading the data to the Waterways Dataviewer. Additionally, the Data Coordinator reviews each monitoring form and follows the Texas Stream Team Data Management Plan (located in the QAPP Appendix D).

Equipment Coordinator: Responsibilities include keeping track of monitoring equipment, managing kits checked out by monitors, and restocking expired reagents and supplies. 

Monitoring Information

How will you use your data (check all that apply)? Please reference the information below for more information about the different monitoring reasons. *

Record Current Conditions/Develop A Baseline: Monitoring to determine current conditions and develop a baseline (a record of normal conditions) to compare with future measurements is a basic goal of water quality testing. Typically, this includes collecting core advanced and/or bacteria measurements. Monitoring should be conducted once a month at the same time of day for a year to develop a baseline.

Problem Identification/Screening: If you have specific water quality concerns and would like to confirm a local water quality problem exists, we recommend monitoring geared toward problem identification. Measurements collected for this type of monitoring depend on the problem you are trying to identify or confirm. At a minimum, measure core parameters, but if there is a contact recreation concern, then also consider monitoring bacteria. The location of the monitoring is more important in this scenario because problems usually arise from a point or nonpoint source discharge. Monitoring should be conducted once a month at the same time of day for a year to help determine if a water quality problem exists.

Education: If you want to introduce students to collecting scientific data in the field or use the data collected to educate residents about their local water quality, then this type of monitoring would be similar to Developing a Baseline (see above for details).

Trends Over Time and Space: Monitoring for trends is the most extensive and demanding type of monitoring, but it can also produce the most useful data to help scientists and citizen scientists understand the long-term water quality in an area, and to identify how water quality varies in response to weather, in-stream processes, or urbanization around the water body.

To look at changes through space, three or more monitoring sites located in different parts of the water body are recommended. Choose several sites along a single stream or sample tributaries versus sampling the main river channel. To get accurate comparisons, sample all sites on the same day at around the same time. Sample the most downstream site first and work your way upstream so that monitoring activities at one site do not influence the next set of measurements.

To look at changes through time, be ready to commit to at least three years of monitoring. To capture seasonal variability, bi-monthly monitoring is recommended (every two weeks). If you are interested in trends over years, then monthly sampling is acceptable.

Gauge BMP Effectiveness: Some citizen scientists may wish to test the effectiveness of a best management practice (BMP) for improving water quality in their water body. A BMP can be a detention pond, a restored wetland, or other structure that is designed to soak up pollutants and excess sediment and improve downstream water quality. For this type of monitoring, choose two sites for comparison, one upstream and one downstream of the BMP. Typically, BMPs are designed to retain nutrients, bacteria, and/or sediment, so testing for all three parameter groups is recommended.

Ecological Health and Assessment: Assess the health of lake, river, stream or estuary based on the riparian habitat and the aquatic insects that live there. Data are coupled with water quality data and used to track ecosystem and habitat health over time in the rivers and streams that flow to the Texas Coast. Macroinvertebrate bioassessments should be conducted at least twice per year.

Riparian Health and Evaluation:

It is important to monitor riparian areas because the indicators of riparian function can lead to the identification of activities that may be hindering the natural riparian recovery process. Riparian Evaluations should be conducted at least twice per year.

Which monitoring type will you be conducting (check all that apply)? *

Monitoring Site Information

It is highly recommended to reactivate an inactive site as historical data is tied to that site and can help with establishing trends and looking at changes over time. To identify an inactive site near you, please refer to our online Datamap and simply click on a black inactive point to prompt a pop-up window containing the Site ID information.

If you want to request a new monitoring site, please fill out the New Monitoring Site Request Form.