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  Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards

Community Water Monitoring

What is community water monitoring?

"Community water monitoring" is the collection of scientific water quality data by concerned citizens working in partnership with professional scientists and government decision-makers. This valuable data helps determine the ecological condition of local waterbodies as well as identify the causes and sources of water quality impairment. Community water monitoring includes both "citizen science" and "volunteer monitoring" activities. Anyone can participate in community water monitoring - all you need is an interest in your watershed.
Benthic Macroinvertibrate Monitoring collecting samples collecting samples
Photo Credit: NJDEPPhoto Credit: Hackensack River KeeperPhoto Credit: NJDEP

Photo Credit: NJDEP
  • Physical conditions (stream depth, flow, temperature, etc.)
  • Chemical characteristics (concentrations of phosphorus, nitrogen, dissolved oxygen, etc.)
  • Biological conditions (number and type of living creatures and bacteria, condition of habitat, etc.)
  • Identification and reporting of algal blooms, including harmful algal species

Photo Credit: NJDEP

Whether you are wading into a stream to collect macroinvertebrates (the organisms that live on the stream bottom), or visiting your lake to make observations about how your lake “looks”, community water monitoring data is collected in various ways depending on the project. Some projects require use of specific equipment, ranging from specialized thermometers and nets to electronic water quality meters. Other projects require only your eyes, the data form, a pen and a clip board.

Photo Credit: NJDEP

Community water monitoring data may be used for environmental education and outreach, environmental stewardship, community-based watershed assessment, or regulatory response, depending on the type, quality, and format of the data collected. High quality data collected by citizen scientists and volunteer monitors can help supplement data collected by environmental professionals and can assist scientists, policy makers, and resource managers make more informed decisions that protect New Jersey’s waterways. Data that has met specific quality requirements in accordance with a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) and is submitted electronically through USEPA's Water Quality Exchange (WQX) web portal can be used by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to assess water quality for the New Jersey Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report.

There are many organizations, watershed associations, schools, and other entities that collect water quality data and information on local streams, rivers, and other waterbodies in New Jersey.

For more information, please contact Kimberly Cenno, Bureau Chief,
Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards at (609) 633-1441.

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Last Updated: May 11, 2020