Effectiveness Monitoring of Water Quality Improvement Projects in Washington State Fresh Waters

Effectiveness monitoring is the process of gathering and analyzing water quality data to evaluate how well a water cleanup plan (total maximum daily load, or TMDL) or other water quality improvement project is working to make the water cleaner.

Pend Oreille Lake.  Photo courtesy of Jean Parodi, WA Department of Ecology.

Why the Department of Ecology does effectiveness monitoring

We conduct effectiveness monitoring so that we can use the results to refine best management practices (BMPs), identify additional pollutant sources, and compare existing water quality to the desired water quality goal.

Within Ecology, two programs have primary responsibility for effectiveness monitoring:  the Water Quality Program and the Environmental Assessment Program.

What is done with the monitoring data

The results of effectiveness monitoring is included in the subsequent water quality assessment. If improvements in water quality are found, the category of the affected listings may change from “impaired” to “meets standards”. If the water bodies are found to still be polluted then the water quality improvement plan will need to be modified, and further implementation of BMPs or restrictions on point and non-point sources will be necessary.

Effectiveness monitoring for water quality improvement projects

After a water cleanup plan (total maximum daily load, or TMDL) or other water quality improvement project is in place, we use effectiveness monitoring to see if our efforts actually resulted in cleaner water.

Water quality improvement projects include recommended actions to improve water quality in the targeted water body. When the actions are implemented and the water quality shows improvement, periodic monitoring is done within the study area. The monitoring data are used to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation actions. The data may help determine whether the actions are sufficient to attain water quality standards or whether further measures need to be put into practice.

Conducting effectiveness monitoring for water quality improvement projects

Many organizations perform effectiveness monitoring for water quality improvement projects. Conservation districts, local governments, tribes, Ecology, and other entities monitor after implementing a water quality improvement project.

Water Quality Program staff work with communities to develop and coordinate water clean-up efforts, from developing TMDLs and other water quality improvement projects to identifying solutions or specific BMPs. Once significant progress is documented, the Water Quality Program staff and community participants identify which projects are ready for the monitoring.

The Environmental Assessment Program, which is Ecology’s scientific arm, plans and performs specialized types of effectiveness monitoring.

Who to contact for effectiveness monitoring information

Water Quality Program staff have the lead role in working with communities to develop and coordinate water clean up efforts, from development of TMDLs or other water cleanup plans, to identifying solutions or specific BMPs. Once the clean up effort is completed, the Water Quality Program project staff and key community participants identify which projects are ready for effectiveness monitoring.

The Environmental Assessment Program, which is Ecology’s scientific arm, designs and implements the effectiveness monitoring projects. To see examples of monitoring studies on completed TMDL projects go to Effectiveness Monitoring for Water Quality Improvement Projects.

 

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Last updated January 2017