Category Archives: Water Monitoring

On Virginia Water Radio for the Week of 6-15-20: Virginia’s 2020 Water Quality Assessment

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the week of June 15, 2020, is “Virginia’s Biennial Water Quality Assessment Report.”  The 5 min./15 sec. episode, available online at, examines some basic information about water quality, designated uses, and Virginia’s 2020 water quality assessment report (undergoing public comment through July 9, 2020).  The episode closes with music by the Virginia group The Steel Wheels.
Map watersheds with assessed uses from DEQ 2020 report
Map showing the Virginia watersheds assessed for support of designated uses, as identified in the “Draft 2020 305(b)/303(d) Water Quality Assessment Integrated Report” by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  Map accessed online at, 6/16/20.

Virginia Water Radio’s is a weekly broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is  Have a listen or two!

On Virginia Water Radio for the Week of 11-18-19: Exploring Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Virginia’s Waters

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the week of November 18, 2019, is “A Report on Emerging Contaminants in Virginia.”  The 4 min./29 sec. episode, available online at, discusses an October 2019 report on contaminants of emerging concern by the Academic Advisory Committee to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.   The report was written by Kang Xia of Virginia Tech and published by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, which coordinates the Academic Advisory Committee.

Virginia Water Radio’s is a weekly broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is  Have a listen or two!

On Virginia Water Radio for 4-2-18: An Overview of Water-quality Monitoring from Three Perspectives

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the week of April 2, 2018, is “Water-quality Monitoring from a Trio of Perspectives.”  The 4 min./26 sec. episode, available online at, is an introduction to biological, chemical, and physical monitoring.  The episode was written and is hosted by Saalehah Habeebah, the spring 2018 intern at the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.

INSECTS - Caddisfly stone cases CLOSEUP New River Eggleston Aug31 2014 USED Radio 4-10-17 and 4-2-18 GROUPER 4-2-18
And here’s a quiz: what kind of water-quality monitoring uses aquatic insects, such as these caddisflies in the New River near Eggleston, Va., on August 31, 2014?

Virginia Water Radio’s is a weekly broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is  Have a listen or two!

Virginia Water Monitoring Council Conference, March 21, 2018, in Henrico, Va.

The Virginia Water Monitoring Council will hold its 2018 annual conference on March 21, 2018, at the Henrico County Training Center in  Henrico, Va.

Along with the Council, other organizers of the conference include Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University, Henrico County, and the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.

As of January 23, 2018, the draft agenda includes the following:

Monitoring Filamentous Algae on the Shenandoah River — Tara L. Sieber, Water Monitoring and Assessments Manager, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality;

Making Urban Trees Count: Stormwater Runoff and Load Reduction Credits for Urban Tree Canopy — Neely L. Law, PhD, Director of Education and Training, Center for Watershed Protection;

Plastic Pollution as a Vector for Pathogens — Amanda Laverty, Old Dominion University;

The Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP) in Action — Stacey Heflin, Conservation Specialist, Henricopolis Soil & Water Conservation District;

INSTAR (INteractive STream Assessment Resource) — Gregory C. Garman, PhD, Director, VCU Rice Rivers Center;

20-year Analysis of Water Quality Monitoring in the Shenandoah River Watershed — Wayne Webb, Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District and Friends of Shenandoah River;

ColiFind: A Digital Image Analysis Application to Identify E. coli Colonies in Coliscan Easygel Water Quality Tests — Ana Humphrey, T.C. Williams High School.

For more information or to register, visit, or contact Clean Virginia Waterways at (434) 395-2602 or

On Virginia Water Radio for 9-4-17: Drones Over Water Help Generate Maps, Monitoring, and Assessments

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the week of September 4, 2017, is “The Water Work of Drones.”  The 3 min./33 sec. episode, available online at, focuses on how drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (or systems) are being applied in various ways for water resources mapping, monitoring, and assessment (for example, as in Texas during Hurricane Harvey in August-September 2017).

384 photo 2 Clinch River Aug29 2017 drone photo from Daniel Cross

Clinch River at Kyles Ford, Tenn., as photographed on August 29, 2017, during an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) flight conducted by the Conservation Management Institute in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Photo courtesy of Daniel Cross, used with permission.

Virginia Water Radio’s is a weekly broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is  Have a listen or two!

Water Monitoring Kits Available in Fall 2017 from Va. DEQ for Schools and Other Organizations

The following information was provided on August 31, 2017, by the Virginia Water Monitoring Council (VWMC).  Please feel free to forward this information.  When forwarding, please acknowledge the VWMC.  For more information about the VWMC, please visit

Water Monitoring Test Kits Available

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is distributing a limited number of water monitoring kits that can be used to test for dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, and temperature.  Each kit can perform multiple tests.  These kits are available for free to schools and organizations that do not have water monitoring equipment.  DEQ requests that participants use these kits as part of the EarthEcho Water Challenge (formerly known as World Water Monitoring Challenge; to learn more about that challenge, see; groups with their own monitoring equipment are also invited to participate in that event).

If you are a teacher or work with a large number of students, you can request a free kit.  Contact Stuart Torbeck by e-mail at, and provide the following information:
(1) your complete mailing address;
(2) the number of locations you plan to monitor:
(3) the expected number of participants at any one time; and
(4) the total number of participants from your organization or school that you expect to participate in the EarthEcho Water Challenge.
This information will be used to determine how many kits you will likely need.

The Virginia Water Monitoring Council provided the kits for this effort.

Draft Biennial Water Quality Report Released by Virginia DEQ on Aug. 7, 2017; Public Comment Period Ends Sep. 6, 2017

Some of the information for this post was provided by the Virginia Water Monitoring Council (VWMC).  More information about the VWMC is available online at

On August 7, 2017, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) released for public comment the draft 2016 report on water quality in the Virginia’s streams, rivers, lakes, and estuaries.  The draft report, referred to as the 305(b)/303(d) Water Quality Assessment Integrated Report (the numbers refer to relevant sections of the federal Clean Water Act) is available online at (as of 8/15/17).  The Clean Water Act requires such a report every two years.  The 2016 report includes assessments of conditions in Virginia’s waters based on data gathered from January 1, 2009, through December 31, 2014.

According to the draft 2016 report’s Executive Summary, the report assesses the Commonwealth’s water quality based on data from DEQ staff monitoring at 4025 monitoring stations plus data from over 100 citizen groups and other government agencies.  The report’s assessments cover about 7,177 stream miles (23 percent of the state total), 20,318 lake/reservoir acres (97 percent of the state total), and 315 estuary square miles (97.5 percent of the state total).

According to page 4 of the draft report’s Introduction, every two years on a rotating basis, Virginia monitors about one third of the state’s “sub-watersheds” (small drainage areas that combine to form larger river basins), taking six years to complete a full monitoring cycle.

The report describes conditions overall and lists “impaired” water bodies; that is, those that do not meet state water-quality standards and do not support the public uses designated for the water bodies (aquatic life, fish consumption, public water supplies [where applicable], recreation [swimming], shellfishing, and wildlife).  Such waters usually require a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study and implementation plan.

Here are two key findings from the draft 2016 report, according to the Executive Summary.  The numbers given below are subject to revision following public comment and review by the U.S. EPA.

1) Impaired waters now include 15,713 miles of rivers and streams (about 16 percent of the total stream miles in Virginia); 93,508 acres of lakes and reservoirs (about 80 percent of Virginia’s total), and 2,132 square miles of estuaries (about 75 percent of Virginia’s total).

2) Compared to the last biennial report (2014, based on data from 2007-2012), the 2016 draft report shows increased in the number of streams, lake/reservoir acres, and estuary square miles that are not impaired.  Click here for the 2014 biennial report:

The draft report is undergoing a public-comment period until September 6, 2017; written comments on the draft report can be sent to Sandra Mueller, Va. DEQ, Office of Water Monitoring and Assessment, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, Virginia 23218; phone (804) 698-4324; e-mail:

A public webinar on the draft report will be held August 24, 2017, 10 a.m. EDT  Submitted questions will be addressed and posted in a document on the DEQ Web site.  Registration for the webinar is available at

Virginia DEQ Inviting Proposals for Citizen Water-quality Monitoring Grants for 2018; Applications Due August 31, 2017

Through August 31, 2017, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is inviting proposals for citizen water-quality monitoring grants for 2018.  The grants are to cover project activities from January 1 to December 31, 2018; a final report on the use of the grants funds will be due by February 16, 2018.  Any organization that involves citizen volunteers in water-quality monitoring in Virginia is eligible to apply.

This year, the DEQ is offering three kinds of grants:

Mini-Grant (up to $1,000): Open only to applicants who have not received a DEQ citizen monitoring grant in the previous three years.  The grantee must use at least one-third of the award for equipment and begin water monitoring before the end of the grant period.

Regular Grant (up to $5,000): Maximum award up to $5,000.  Recommended to applicants already familiar with water quality monitoring.  The applicant must submit a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) if a grant is awarded, and begin water monitoring before the end of the grant period.

Coordination Grant (up to $11,000): Open only to applicants who meet the following three conditions.
1 – Coordinate at least three member monitoring organizations that total 35 or more volunteers.  A member monitoring organization is defined as an organization that collects water quality samples but uses the coordinator protocols or submits their data to the coordinating organization.
2 – Monitoring occurs at more than 50 sample sites.
3 – Monitoring occurs in three Virginia city and/or county localities. The grantee must submit a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP), and begin water monitoring before the end of the grant period.

DEQ will only accept one application from a requesting group.

The Request for Proposals (RFP) information is available online at

For more information, contact Stuart Torbeck, Va. DEQ Data Liaison, at (804) 698-4461 or

The Virginia Water Monitoring Council (VWMC) provided information for this post.  More information on the VWMC is available online at


Healthy and Safe Swimming Information Sources – May 2017 Edition

Following is a list of information sources for healthy and safe swimming.  This list was published on May 22, 2017, by the Virginia Water Monitoring Council (VWMC), with financial support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Virginia Department of Health .  More information on the VWMC is available online at; or contact Jane Walker at

Please feel free to re-distribute this information.  If you forward this announcement or post it to your Web site, please let the VWMC know so that the information can be reported it to the funders; to do so, please email:

1.) Healthy and Safe Swimming WeekMay 22-28, 2017

The week before Memorial Day marks the thirteenth annual Healthy and Safe Swimming Week. Nationwide, communities will be collaborating and engaging in discussion about how to maximize the health benefits of water-based physical activity while minimizing the risk of recreational water–associated illness and injury. Together, swimmers, aquatics and beach staff, residential pool owners, and public health officials can prevent the spread of germs by following easy and effective healthy swimming steps which can be found at

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site has promotional materials (brochures, buttons & banners, fact sheets, infographics, podcasts, posters, mobile apps, social media library, stories, and videos) to educate the public on healthy swimming practices.  To learn more, see:  (Please see #5 below for more resources from the CDC.)

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is promoting Healthy and Safe Swimming Week and is providing a media and messaging toolkit at  A statewide press release will soon be available at

2.) Beach Monitoring in Virginia

Bacteria levels in coastal beach water are monitored weekly at 46 public beaches on the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean of Virginia during the swimming season (May-September).

Water samples are collected weekly by Local Health Departments and analyzed by local laboratories for enterococci bacteria. If bacteria levels exceed Virginia’s Water Quality Standard of 104 colony forming units (cfu)/100 mL of water, a swimming advisory is issued. Enterococci bacteria serve as an indicator for fecal contamination in salt and brackish waters. These organisms are not harmful themselves, but indicate that other potentially harmful organisms may be present. High levels of enterococci bacteria indicate an increased health risk to recreational water users.

Follow VDH’s Beach Monitoring Program on Twitter to receive a notification for swimming advisories

For information about current swimming advisories and monitored beaches, beach advisory and monitoring data, links to local beaches, local health department contacts, special projects, and our new Coastal Beach Monitoring brochure visit:

3.) “Beaches and Bacteria”

This article was updated in January 2014 and is available at  It was first published by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Virginia Water Central Newsletter (August 2004).  The article describes:

  • The difference between a beach advisory and a beach closure
  • The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act
  • The types of indicator organisms monitored at Virginia’s beaches
  • Virginia’s bacteria standards
  • Microbial Source Tracking

4.) “Safely Enjoying Virginia’s Natural Waters”

This brochure, published by the Virginia Department of Health, covers topics such as:

  • What organisms are in natural waters and where do they come from?
  • What are the health risks and how are they determined?
  • Why avoid natural water after a heavy rain?
  • What you can do to protect yourself.

Go to to download a PDF document of the brochure.

5.) More from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Healthy Swimming & Recreational Water web page: — Provides information on the following topics and more:

  • Health Benefits of Water Based Exercise – Chronic Illness, Mental Health, Older Adults
  • Swimmer Protection — Tips for Healthy Swimming, Pool and Hot Tub User Information
  • Recreational Water Illnesses — Germs & Illnesses, Education & Prevention Materials, State Resources
  • Other Recreational Water Issues — Drowning, Injuries, Boating, Sun Protection, Extreme Heat
  • Pools & Hot Tubs — Design, Operation, Disinfection, Regulation
  • Oceans, Lakes, & Rivers — Beach Monitoring, Water Quality Indicators
  • Model Aquatic Health Code — About, The MAHC, Updating, Tools

Natación Saludable — Información en Español —



National Water Quality Interactive Map Tool Released by USGS in April 2017

On April 4, 2017, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced the release of a new interactive mapper tool to show data from 40 years of water-quality monitoring, including from the National Water Quality Assessment program (NAWQA).  The mapper is available online at

According to the mapper’s Web site, the tool shows stream trends in water chemistry and aquatic ecology (fish, invertebrates, and algae) for four time periods: 1972-2012, 1982-2012, 1992-2012, and 2002-2012.

Following is an excerpt from the USGS news release on the tool: “For the first time, monitoring data collected by the USGS and 73 other organizations at almost 1,400 sites have been combined to provide a nationwide look at changes in the quality of our rivers and streams between the 1972 passage of the Clean Water Act and 2012. …The interactive map can be used to see whether 51 water-quality constituents, like nutrients and pesticides, and 38 aquatic-life metrics, like the types and numbers of fish, macroinvertebrates, and algae, have increased, decreased, or remained the same at nearly 1,400 sites between 1972 and 2012.  …The map summarizes the first phase of the study—in which the USGS identifies streams that have been monitored consistently for long periods and reports the trends in those streams.  In the second phase, to take place over the next several years, the USGS will assess whether and where billions in investments in pollution control have been effective, identify major causes of trends in U.S. stream quality, provide details on which chemicals are increasing or decreasing, and highlight whether any drinking water sources or aquatic ecosystems are at increased risk.”

Source: First-of-its-kind Interactive Map Brings Together 40 Years of Water-Quality Data, U.S. Geological Survey News Release, 4/4/17.