Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Workshops

Introductory Workshop

This workshop introduces the basic level of monitoring including site selection, stream discharge and biological monitoring. The primary emphasis is education about watersheds and the importance of biological monitoring in those watersheds. The following subjects are taught in the classroom and then demonstrated at a nearby creek.

Volunteers receive instruction in the following:

  • How to take a subjective survey of the stream site that will be monitored. The site survey includes evaluating land use, riparian (wooded area) cover, stream bank and in-stream conditions.
  • How to map a watershed. Volunteers receive hands-on mapping instructions on how to map the watershed of their adopted stream.
  • How to calculate stream discharge. Volunteers are instructed on how to use the Stream Discharge data sheets and mathematically derive the stream discharge in cubic feet per second. This method is comparable to professional stream discharge measurements.
  • How to collect and identify invertebrates that are living in streams. Invertebrates are indicators of pollution. Volunteers learn how to derive a water quality rating from the invertebrate collection.
  • How to choose a good site to monitor.
  • How to be safe on the creek.
  • How to understand the laws that protect the water quality of streams in Missouri.
  • How to fill out data reports.
  • Why it is important that no one should trespass.

Invertebrate photographs and a training notebook are supplied at the workshop. Once workshop attendees return their site selection and stream discharge data sheets they will receive monitoring equipment that includes a kick net, vials, maginifers and forceps. The workshop is taught in one day.

Introductory Workshop Notebook

Stream Insects and Crustaceans Identification Blue Bug Card

Introductory Workshop Notebook Microsoft® PowerPoint® Presentations

Level 1 Workshop

The Level 1 Workshop prepares volunteers to go to a nearby stream and investigate six chemical aspects of the water, conduct a visual survey and collect macroinvertebrates and water quality indicator species. The chemical tests include temperature, pH (the acidity of the water), conductivity, dissolved oxygen, nitrate and phosphate (nutrients) and turbidity. All six parameters can be related to the Clean Water Act laws that protect the water quality of the nation’s rivers and streams.

The workshop provides eight hours of in-classroom instruction that includes:

  • How to properly conduct the chemical tests.
  • How to manage and care for the chemical test equipment.
  • How to safely store the test equipment.
  • How to dispose of the water and waste materials that are created from the chemical reaction.
  • How to interpret the data through the use of a Water Chemistry Reference Table.
  • How to conduct a visual survey.

Workshop time is spent demonstrating and practicing chemical monitoring in the classroom and in the field. The stream side chemical testing includes when it is beneficial to monitor (time of day) and when monitoring can become dangerous.

Workshop time is spent teaching the correct method for conducting a visual survey in the classroom as well as out on the stream. Volunteers are taught how to subjectively determine land use in their watershed, as well as how to evaluate riparian (wooded area) cover, stream bank and in-stream conditions.

Biological monitoring review includes:

  • Macroinvertebrate habitats.
  • Seasons for collecting biological data.
  • Life cycle of the aquatic insect.
  • How to identify macroinvertebrates by studying morphology and key characteristics.

Level I instruction also covers aspects of sand and gravel removal and the physical change that can take place in a stream when the removal of these resources are conducted improperly.

Workshop attendees will be qualified to receive monitoring equipment that includes pH and conductivity pens, a dissolved oxygen kit, nitrate kit, turbidity tube, safety glasses and a training notebook when they have completed an Introductory workshop and the Level I workshop. The workshop is scheduled for one day.

Level 1 Workshop Notebook

Level 2 Workshop

Volunteers who have successfully completed the Level 1 workshop and submitted both Stream Discharge and Water Chemistry data are eligible to attend a Level 2 workshop. The Level 2 workshop is a Quality Assurance/Quality Control Workshop in a laboratory setting.

Attending a Level 2 workshop allows the volunteer to:

  • Check their chemical monitoring equipment to ensure it is functioning properly.
  • Improve their chemical monitoring techniques.
  • Improve their ability to correctly identify macroinvertebrates by obtaining assistance identifying unknown invertebrates from their streams and confirming identification of invertebrates in their reference collection.

Level 3 Evaluation

Volunteers who have successfully completed the Level 2 Workshop are eligible for Level 3 evaluation. Those volunteers who regularly submit all four data sets may be the most comfortable pursuing a Level 3 audit.

The designation of Level 3 indicates that program personnel have evaluated the volunteer in the field at their monitoring site. In order to pass a Level 3 audit, the volunteer must successfully demonstrate all of the procedures and techniques learned up to that point, as well as be able to identify all of the invertebrates at their site to Order.

This evaluation is scheduled through appointment only. It is strongly recommended that the volunteer request evaluation during a time of year they regularly sample macroinvertebrates. By doing so, the volunteer ensures the highest level of familiarity and confidence identifying the types and seasonally-changing sizes of invertebrates in their stream.

For more information contact Randy Sarver with the department's Environmental Services Program.