Water Quality Monitoring Program
Data Quality Assurance Protocols
Ensuring High-Quality Data & Monitoring Protocols
Columbia Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Monitoring program is part of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Volunteer Monitoring Program. Riverkeeper’s staff is trained by DEQ and all data collected is reviewed upon submission. Our sampling protocols, also known as our Quality Assurance Project Plans are approved by DEQ to ensure the highest quality of data. Riverkeeper’s data is uploaded into both DEQ’s and the Washington Deptartment of Ecology’s online databases upon collection to help fill data gaps and raise red-flags for further research in key areas.
Riverkeeper WQM Volunteers sample between the 10th and 20th of each month, improving data comparability and providing a snapshot of the basin during the same window. Additionally, volunteers are required to take duplicate samples, or conduct each test twice, to ensure the precision of their data during their first sampling trip each year. During each proceeding sampling trip throughout the year, volunteers continue to take a duplicate sample of at least one parameter each time as well. Riverkeeper staff and seasoned volunteers also conduct annual side-by-side or Split Samples with new volunteers to confirm results and ensure accurate sampling techniques. Oregon DEQ rates our data annually and we strive for “A” quality each year, which is defensible in court of law.
Riverkeeper works with many high schools and colleges to bring water quality demonstrations into the classroom and students down on the river. Due to the difficulty of ensuring high quality data with large classes, the data is rated Educational unless the teacher commits to a Riverkeeper WQM Training Session and can carefully oversee the procedure. Educational data is very useful as baseline data and as a warning system– it can alert Riverkeeper staff and DEQ to problems that otherwise might go unnoticed.