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Stream HealthWadeable Trend Reference Sites

Wadeable Trend Reference Streams

Monitoring Objectives

The major goal of this monitoring program is to track long term variation in biological indices over time at reference sites to understand natural variation and broad scale impacts of climatic extreme events on biologic communities. Secondarily, a suite of physical and chemical parameters are monitored over time to understand natural variation.

Monitoring Design

The Wadeable Trend Reference Sites monitoring program samples 44 regionally based, least-disturbed (hereafter, reference) stream locations distributed throughout the State. Stream locations were selected from a combination of the 2008-2009 reference stream project and best professional judgment based on regional expectations of reference condition and stratified among natural communities.

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

  • Total phosphorus (TP) analysis against WisCALM Assessment thresholds
  • Wadeable Macroinvertebrate Index (WisCALM Assessment)
  • Fish IBI (dependent on natural community). (WisCALM Assessment)
  • Qualitative physical habitat

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

All data collected for the Wadeable Trend Reference Sites will be stored in SWIMS or the Fish and Habitat Database (FH). Quantitative habitat and fish community results are entered into the FH database maintained by the Bureau of Fisheries management. All other data are stored in SWIMS. Field chemistry data is entered directly by the State Lab of Hygiene as long as the data are recorded on the labslip. Macroinvertebrate data is transferred to SWIMS via a data flow between the UW Stevens Point Aquatic Biomonitoring Laboratory after taxonomic analysis and identification. Summary metric generation is conducted in SWIMS and is available upon request.


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. A report on the status of the project will be completed once 5 years of biologic data for fish and macroinvertebrates are finalized. The fifth year of macroinvertebrate data should be entered into SWIMS in late 2014 with a report likely coming in 2016.

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