How is water quality measured? Who measures it?
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How is water quality measured? Who measures it?. Dr. Matt Helmers Assistant Professor and Extension Agricultural Engineer Dept . of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Iowa State University. What do we mean by “water quality”.

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How is water quality measured? Who measures it?

Dr. Matt Helmers

Assistant Professor and Extension Agricultural Engineer

Dept . of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Iowa State University


What do we mean by water quality
What do we mean by “water quality”

  • Water quality is the measure of the suitability of water for a particular use based on physical, chemical, and biological characteristics.


Why do we measure water quality
Why do we measure water quality?

  • To ensure the water is safe for the intended use

    • Fishing

    • Swimming

    • Drinking

    • Agricultural use

    • Aquatic life

  • To make sure the quality of the water is meeting some determined criteria

  • To understand the impacts of land management practices or changes


How do we measure water quality
How do we measure water quality?

  • Some aspects determined right in the stream

    • Flow

    • Temperature

    • pH

    • Dissolved oxygen

    • Electrical conductivity

  • Collection of water sample and analysis in the laboratory

    • Nutrients

    • Sediment

    • Bacteria

    • Etc.


Monitoring site on upper maquoketa river northeast iowa above backbone state park 1999 2001
Monitoring site on Upper Maquoketa River; northeast Iowa, above Backbone State Park (1999-2001)


Isco flow meter and auto sampler in insulated enclosure
ISCO flow-meter and auto-sampler in insulated enclosure above Backbone State Park (1999-2001)


Flow and sampling set up gilmore city site
Flow and sampling set-up/Gilmore City site above Backbone State Park (1999-2001)


Subsurface flow timing of flow
Subsurface Flow – Timing of Flow above Backbone State Park (1999-2001)

If drainage main is undersized problems occur


Subsurface flow timing of flow1
Subsurface Flow – Timing of Flow above Backbone State Park (1999-2001)


Surface runoff small watersheds with detailed sampling
Surface Runoff – Small Watersheds with Detailed Sampling above Backbone State Park (1999-2001)


Surface runoff small watersheds with detailed sampling1
Surface Runoff – Small Watersheds with Detailed Sampling above Backbone State Park (1999-2001)


How do we setup a monitoring scheme
How do we setup a monitoring scheme? above Backbone State Park (1999-2001)

  • Depends on contaminant?

    • For nitrate grab samples on some set schedule may be appropriate

    • For constituents primarily transported during high-flow events more frequent sampling or automated sampling may be necessary


Monitoring sites on Upper Maquoketa River (1999-2001) above Backbone State Park (1999-2001)northeast Iowa, 68% row-crop/significant subsurface drainage


Does pollutant of concern impact ability to detect changes
Does pollutant of concern impact ability to detect changes? above Backbone State Park (1999-2001)

  • In Upper Midwest significant portion of nitrogen inputs to the stream may have fairly defined source from the tile lines – reducing nitrate to some acceptable level from drains may be relatively quickly reflected in watershed N-levels

  • Phosphorus source may be both field and in-stream which may greatly impact ability to detected impacts of practices changes on watershed P-levels


Monitoring water quality checklist
Monitoring Water Quality Checklist above Backbone State Park (1999-2001)

  • Identify your watershed.

  • Choose between the types of monitoring.

  • Get expert help, including training and equipment.

  • Choose site(s) to collect samples.

  • Collect, organize, and analyze data.

  • Report your results to agencies and the public.

  • Maintain quality control.


Overview
Overview above Backbone State Park (1999-2001)

  • To get a general idea of water quality conditions voluntary water monitoring may be appropriate

  • If the goal is to document effects of practices or practice changes a more detailed monitoring protocol would be necessary since would need samples over various conditions with corresponding analysis that has a high degree of precision.


Who monitors water quality
Who monitors water quality? above Backbone State Park (1999-2001)

  • Academia

  • Federal and state agencies (e.g. U.S.G.S. and IA DNR)

  • Watershed groups

  • Volunteer groups (e.g. IOWATER)


Links for additional information
Links for additional information above Backbone State Park (1999-2001)

  • National Water Quality Monitoring Council

    • http://acwi.gov/monitoring/index.html

  • http://www.epa.gov/owow/monitoring/monintr.html

  • http://iaspub.epa.gov/waters10/w305b_report_control.get_report?p_state=IA&p_cycle=#impairment


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