Water Quality Monitoring Efforts
Assessment and reporting of our State's stream water quality is performed by the Watershed Assessment Branch of the
DEP. Teams of biologists and environmental specialists measure water quality and habitat information on-site;
collect waters samples for laboratory analysis; and collect benthic macroinvertebrate and fish from streams and
lakes throughout the state. A report documenting the Watershed Assessment Branch's Water Quality Monitoring Strategy
was last updated in 2007. The Watershed Assessment Branch's Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) page can be
following the this
Biological and water quality data are collected throughout the year for a variety of purposes. Below is a listing and
description of the major quality monitoring efforts. Water quality data from all of these efforts are maintained in
a central database and are available to the public via our Water Quality Data Reporting tool.
A listing of our stream codes and names can be found by clicking here.
Ambient Water Quality Monitoring (AWQM) Network
The network currently consists of 26 fixed (long-term) stations which are sampled bi-monthly. Sampling stations are
located at the mouths of the state’s larger streams and rivers. Currently (2009-2011), all Monongahela River Basin
sites are being sampled monthly, during the summer and fall.
West Virginia Water Quality Trends - 2015 Report
Long-term (43-year) trend analyses were performed on water quality data from the 26 AWQM Network sites. Much of the
news is good. Concentrations of total phosphorus, total suspended solids and several metals (aluminum, iron,
manganese, lead) are decreasing, and area impacted by acid rain are recovering. Mining, agriculture and other
practices still impact water quality conditions in some areas of West Virginia.
Pre-TMDL Development Monitoring
The objective of this intensive monitoring effort is to collect sufficient data for TMDL modelers to develop stream
Probabilistic (Random) Monitoring Program
This program utilizes sites that are selected randomly. The data collected at these sites can be subjected to
statistical analysis to provide estimates of conditions of wadeable streams within a watershed, ecoregion, or
Deployable or Continuous Monitoring
Continuous data obtained from long-term deployments of water quality meters will be utilized to better understand how
water quality varies over time and how it relates to watershed geology, climate, and landuse. Following are some
Deployable monitoring projects:
- Effects of limestone fines additions to acid precipitation impacted streams
- Potomac fish health
- Dunkard Creek
- AML (Abandoned Mine Lands) Projects
Special Studies Summary Page
As water quality issues arise and special sampling efforts are pursued to collect water quality and biological
information to help understand the situation and possibly provide solutions.
Following are links to various studies:
Follow this link to a summary page
of many reports about the health of West Virginia streams.
Benthic Macroinvertebrate and Fish Information
Follow this link to a page that provides
information concerning Biologic Data (including fish).
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)
Watershed Branch SOPs
In 2006, the Watershed Assessment Branch resumed sampling lake, reservoir, and pond waterbodies after an absence of
activity since 1996. Using the rotating Watershed Basin Schedule, much like TMDL sampling, and the targeted Wadeable
Stream Monitoring, sampling occurs on targeted lakes (within the watershed group for that year) four times during
the summer months (May-August). The number of stations per lake varies and is generally proportional to the size of
the lake or the number of major branches or arms of the lake. The components of sampling include a vertical water
chemistry profile (including the physiochemical properties, nutrients, and turbidity measurements), chlorophyll-a
and fecal coliform sampling, Secchi depth, and some limited habitat and disturbance observations.