CBSM Stream Flow Monitoring Comparison Study- CO_07_CMP12


The Water Action Volunteers Program involves citizen monitors in the process of collecting water quality data used by the DNR to assist in making management decisions. Goals of the program include collecting high quality data that can be used for management decisions, building relationships between DNR staff and citizen monitors, and assessing areas in need of additional monitoring, restoration and/or protection. Ultimately, volunteer participation in this project aids DNR staff by allowing for increased capabilities to monitor streams. Communities and the DNR can use this water quality information to make decisions that affect the management of streams throughout Wisconsin.


Data collected by Water Action Volunteers can be used by DNR staff as screening tools. The process of data collection helps Wisconsin citizenry enhance their understanding of data collection and in many cases, move to more sophisticated data collection work including biological and additional physical site data..


Based on unpublished data from Missouri Stream Team, who use a similar method, three categories of discharge will be studied (<1 cfs, 1-10 cfs, and >10 cfs). Eight sites within each discharge category (so, a total of 24 sites) will be selected from existing volunteer stream monitoring sites. These will be visited 4-5 times per year during the 2011 and 2012 field seasons, resulting in up to 120 site visits. Effort will be made to monitor discharge using each method at two locations per site, one with predominantly laminar flow and the other with predominantly turbulent flow (if available). USGS and volunteer methods (by staff and by volunteers) will be used at each site on each visit. Sample collection is expected to be completed in September 2012. Data will be entered on an ongoing basis, with data entry completion expected by October 2012. The final report is expected by December 2012.

Study Design

The Level 2 stream monitoring sampling plan is consistent with statewide baseline monitoring guidelines laid out in the DNR’s Water Resources Monitoring Strategy for Wisconsin. • DNR or county staff recommends sites that could be useful to have monitored based on needs to acquire status or trends information, or other types of monitoring that is priority. • Volunteers are asked to monitor, at least, from May through September • Volunteers choose primary (P) and secondary (S) sampling dates in advance and note on their data sheets on which of those dates they monitored. • Volunteers are asked to sample on the primary date unless there are safety concerns about being at the stream site (e.g., tornado, lightning, dangerously high flows) or a family emergency. • The goal is to monitor at the same time each month, preferably 30 days apart from the last monitoring visit. • Volunteers are instructed to enter data by the end of each month. Parameters Measured: • Dissolved oxygen (concentration) • Dissolved oxygen (saturation) • Transparency • Temperature (instantaneous and continuous measurements) • pH.

Related Reports

Run Project Summary Report
View Umbrella-Projects
View Related-Projects

Citizen Based Stream Monitoring
Volunteer Monitoring
Reports and Documents
Eric Godfrey and Kris Stepenuck at Dakin Creek on August 20, 2012. (See comparison photo for October 6, 2012 when stream was dried up. Second time in 22 years this has occurred.)
Dakin Creek dry on October 6, 2012. Eric Godfrey (volunteer monitor) reported it had dried up on September 27, 2012 to Kris Stepenuck (WAV Coordinator).
Activities & Recommendations
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Tracking stream flow can provide important information for understanding climate change and non-point source pollution, including for TMDL development and monitoring. Budget reductions have resulted in a loss of USGS stream flow gaging stations, and limit the number of WDNR staff who can monitor stream flow with USGS-grade equipment and methods. Modeling and extrapolation are sometimes used to obtain stream flow information when monitoring data are not available at a site, but both of these methods have limitations. Understanding the relationship between volunteer methods and professional methods will improve credibility of Wisconsin’s volunteer stream monitoring data. By determining the relationship between the two methods, volunteer-generated data may be used to aid in determination of nutrient loadings, for climate change research, or for other management purposes.