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Stream HealthWadeable Trend Reference Sites

Targeted Watershed Approach - Streams, Lakes, Wetlands, and more

Targeted Watershed Approach monitoring provides a rotating watershed approach for baseline data collection that blends baseline work with targeted and effectiveness monitoring.

Monitoring Objectives

The goal of targeted watershed assessments across lakes, streams, and wetlands is to identify attainment status and changes in water quality in response to land management practices. Initially, the focus of monitoring will be on streams, but lakes and wetlands will also be monitored in some targeted watersheds. The Targeted watershed approach aligns resource monitoring by watershed at HUC 12 or HUC 10 scale. The design is a rotation approach and its value is enhanced through alignment with fisheries monitoring. An additional value of this type of monitoring is the prospect of aligning volunteer monitoring with staff work to fill in gaps (spatial, temporal), conduct follow-up monitoring (TP sampling, AIS monitoring), collect strategic data (such as near permit outfalls, etc.) and to gather data that results in prioritization of new sites based on results. This approach can involve alignment and sequencing of monitoring, assessment, planning, implementation (i.e. watershed planning framework).

Monitoring Design

The TWA design involves monitoring at the HUC 12 scale (~29-mi2). Approximately five to six sites may be sampled per watershed (HUC 12) (1 site/5-mi2), at which chemistry, macroinvertebrates, fish, habitat, and flows/water levels. These core indicators will be supplemented by intensification areas at pour point including six grabs samples, one per month from May through October. Lakes will also be monitored in the Targeted Watershed when nutrient loading is a concern and/or when land management practices are in play. Water quality issues in lakes will often drive the interest in monitoring the condition of streams in the watershed and TWAs will integrate these two waterbody types.

Site Selection and Design

Stream monitoring locations were selected from a dataset of previously monitored reference sites and by best professional judgment. Although sites are meant to represent least-disturbed conditions because of the non-uniform distribution of land uses within the State the amount of agriculture and urban land uses in a specific reference watershed may vary across the State.

Monitoring for the Wadeable Trend Reference Sites requires multiple site visits to sample during the appropriate index periods. Temperature loggers should be deployed in spring as soon as the water levels are safe to work and removed in fall. Fish, chemical, physical habitat and flow monitoring should take place during the fish sampling summer index period avoiding recent rainfalls. The macroinvertebrate monitoring should occur during the fall sampling index period.

Water Quality Indicators

TWA Indicators

Quality Assurance

 Field protocols
 In field Quality Assurance during data collection
 Sampling & transmittal procedures
 UWSP QA Processes
 SLOH QA Processes
 SWIMS Data flow QA checks
 SWIMS Data Management Checks
 Fish DB Data Quality Checks

Data Management

Field data is directly entered into the SWIMS system. Each HUC will be developed as its own "project" in the SWIMS system (data management design) and under each project fieldwork events with laboratory and field data are collected. Project set up and station creation is conducted in SWIMS by Rivers and Streams Program Coordinator or the SWIMS file manager. Field data is entered subsequent to the field data collection. The data entry into SWIMS follows the generation of labslips and the establishment of fieldwork events. Most analytical work is conducted at the State Laboratory of Hygiene and transmitted through the LDES to the SWIMs system.

Fisheries and habitat data is entered directly into the USGS supported Fisheries Database. Macroinvertebrate data is collected in the field and transmitted to the UWSP Entomology Laboratory for analysis. This data is then entered into a local computer and send to a contractor for the SWIMS system where it is entered into the SWIMS system and metrics are created. Currently, SWIMS does not store aquatic plant, habitat, sediment core, and water budget data on lakes. Plans to store aquatic plant and lake habitat data in SWIMS are under development.


Collected data will be summarized on a biennial basis for the purpose of reporting on the status of the state's waters for the Integrated Water Quality Report to Congress (every two years). The next reporting period is 2016. The data will also be used for key parameter package analyses and statewide condition summaries. Of critical importance, all data from the Targeted Watershed Assessments (TWA) work will be rolled into the watershed planning assessments, narrative descriptions and recommendations will be entered and archived in the WATERS data on an ongoing basis. Biologists are responsible for completing reports for each Targeted Watershed on a schedule created by regional and central office.

Programmatic Evaluation

Periodic reviews to this study design will be made at two and five year intervals to determine if additional sites or subsequent monitoring is needed.

Last revised:

Tuesday May 30 2017