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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Citizen-Based Water Quality Monitoring Programs

The Problem

More and more citizens are taking an active role in protecting local watersheds, yet in many cases insufficient monitoring data is available to properly identify water quality problems.

The Solution

EPA's Laboratory in Richmond, California offers communities support for citizen-based water quality monitoring programs throughout the Region. The goal is to produce monitoring information needed to protect water resources, encourage stewardship of watersheds, and inform concerned citizens about potential water quality issues.

This innovative program includes:

  • providing technical support to volunteer monitoring groups by supplying EPA manuals and newsletters designed for volunteer monitors;
  • assisting in the development of quality assurance plans, including sampling and analytical methods to ensure that valid data is collected;
  • loaning monitoring equipment to citizen groups for use in the field;
  • conducting conferences, workshops, and presentations for volunteer monitoring groups, and;
  • conducting microbiological analyses on water samples collected by citizen monitoring groups.
  • conducting diazinon pesticide analyses on San Francisco Bay area water samples collected by citizen monitoring groups.

The Results

Volunteer water quality monitoring programs have produced some significant advances in watershed protection in the Pacific Southwest Region.

  • Water samples collected by volunteer monitors from several San Francisco Bay urban creeks contained no detectible diazinon, a common organophosphate pesticide found in watersheds throughout the United States. EPA's recent restrictions in diazinon uses may be the reason for its decline in the urban creeks. For more information, see http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/op/diazinon.htm.
  • EPA presented a poster at the annual Bay Area Creeks group meeting in February, 2002. The poster showed results of bacterial analyses conducted on samples collected by volunteers at 11 watersheds in the San Francisco Bay Area. The meeting stimulated greater networking and partnerships between San Francisco Bay Area volunteer groups.
  • The EPA Region 9 Lab donated used field equipment to the Hanalei Heritage River in Kauai, Hawaii. The group is using equipment to monitor Enterococcus bacteria to identify the quantity and sources of bacterial contamination in the Hanalei River and nearby Hanalei Bay. Early suspicion of the sources include leaking septic tanks and portable restrooms at the beach.


For additional information, visit http://www.epa.gov/OWOW/monitoring/vol.html or contact Amy Wagner at (510) 412-2329, wagner.amy@epa.gov.

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