Water Quality

EPA Region 9 (includes California) TMDL program

This site provides information on EPA's Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Program under section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

EPA Region 9 Water Quality Impairment -- 305(b) Reports

This is an inventory of the impairments in California water bodies carried out by the EPA. It has some jargon for which there is a "metadata" page describing terms.

EPA Watershed Assessment, Tracking & Environmental Results (WATERS)

WATERS is an integrated information system for the nation's surface waters. The EPA Office of Water (OW) has various programs that store data in associated databases. These databases are separately managed with little coordination among them. Under WATERS, the program databases are connected to a larger framework.

EPA's Safe Drinking Water Standards

The EPA has legal standards for contaminant concentrations in "safe" drinking water. This site describes these standards and the information relevant to development of the standards.

California 303d list updated 2002

The SWRCB adopted the 2002 Clean Water Act section 303(d) list of water quality limited segments at a February 4, 2003 Board Meeting.

Geospatial Waterbody System (GeoWBS) (UC Davis )

The GeoWBS database contains information about waterbodies in California. Query by Water Quality Control Board Region, type of waterbody, beneficial uses, TMDL pollutant, causes of pollution, or sources of pollution.

Clean Water Team Volunteer Monitoring Guidance (State Water Resources Control Board)

Sediment, flow, and visual assessment are the monitoring methods described in this guide, prepared by a technical advisory team on citizen monitoring.

Elements of a State Water Monitoring and Assessment Program (EPA, 2003)

EPA and States need comprehensive water quality monitoring and assessment information on environmental conditions and changes over time to help set levels of protection in water quality standards and to identify problem areas that are emerging or that need additional regulatory and non-regulatory actions to support water quality management decisions such as TMDLs, NPDES permits, enforcement, and nonpoint source management. This information also informs EPA and State decisionmakers, the Congress, the public, and other stakeholders of the progress that the Agency and State partners are making in protecting human health and the environment. Without this information, it is difficult for EPA and the States to set priorities, evaluate the success of programs and activities, and report on accomplishments in a credible and informed way (U.S. GAO 2000).

Water Quality Assessment for the Sacramento River Basin (US Geological Survey, 1998 and continuing)

The National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program of the U.S. Geological Survey is the largest water quality program of the Geological Survey, and has, as part of its goals, an understanding of the status and trends of the nation's water quality and an understanding of the natural and anthropogenic factors affecting water quality. The Sacramento River Basin NAWQA study unit is one of 60 basins, located throughout the United States, which will complete studies of surface water resources, ground water resources and biological assessments.

Water Quality Assessment for the San Joaquin River and Tulare Basins (US Geological Survey, 1998 and continuing)

The National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program of the U.S. Geological Survey is the largest water quality program of the Geological Survey. The San Joaquin-Tulare Basins (SANJ) study unit, located in central California, was a part of the first decadal cycle of the program investigations. The SANJ intensively investigated the quality of water resources in the study unit in order to establish existing water quality conditions of streams and aquifers.

Water Quality Assessment for the Santa Ana River Basin (US Geological Survey, 1998 and continuing)

As part of the NAWQA program, the U.S.G.S. is evaluating water quality in the Santa Ana Basin. The Santa Ana River is the largest stream system in southern California and the study unit covers an area of about 2,700 square miles in parts of Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Los Angeles Counties. Beginning in 1998, and continuing for a period of three years, the Santa Ana NAWQA project intensively investigated the quality of water resources in the study unit. The largest and most important component of the intensive-study phase was an "Occurrence and Distribution Assessment". The goal of this assessment was to characterize, in a nationally consistent manner, the broad-scale geographic and seasonal variations of water-quality related to major contaminant sources and background conditions.

Introduction to Water Quality Models (NRCS)

The South Central Water Management Center of the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service provides a basic overview of water quality models and links to a sample of such models.

Ground Water (USGS Report)

In order for the Nation to receive maximum benefit from its ground-water resource, it is essential that everyone, from the rural homeowner to managers of industrial and municipal water supplies to heads of Federal and State water-regulatory agencies, become more knowledgeable about the occurrence, development, and protection of ground water. This report has been prepared to help meet the needs of these groups, as well as the needs of hydrologists, well drillers, and others engaged in the study and development of ground-water supplies . It consists of 45 sections on the basic elements of ground-water hydrology, arranged in order from the most basic aspects of the subject through a discussion of the methods used to determine the yield of aquifers to a discussion of common problems encountered in the operation of ground-water supplies.

Ground Water Basics (The Groundwater Foundation)

This site provides a series of basic materials describing ground water and ground water contamination. It is appropriate for the beginning ground water assessor.

Chesapeake Bay Program

The Chesapeake Bay Program is a very large endeavor and has a lot of background material online. This site supports the CBP, but includes a lot of information that is directly and indirectly useful for Californian water quality assessors. Their site design is also a useful template for any large groups thinking of creating an online interface for their water quality monitoring program.

Classroom of the Future -- Water Quality Module (Center for Educational Technologies)

The COTF provides 3 main ways to think about water quality -- biological , chemical, and physical. It describes the basics for each of these areas in an easy to read format with hyper-links to additional information, including a very good glossary.

Sediment Assessment

Methods for Sampling and Analysis of Surface and Subsurface Particle Size Distributions

USDA General Technical Report (GTR-74) published in 2001 provides instruction on how to effectively sample and analyze gravel and cobble bed particle size distributions (surface and subsurface) in wadable
streams. The document summarizes field and laboratory measurement of particle size and methods of analysis particularly useful in assessment of aquatic habitat. The reference for the report is: Bunte, K., and Abt, S.R., 2001. Sampling Surface and Surface Particle-Size Distributions in Wadable Gravel-and Cobble-Bed Streams for Analysis in Sediment Transport, Hydraulics, and Streambed Monitoring. USDA General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-74.

Field Methods for Measurement of Fluvial Sediment

This USGS Report is an update of the classic reference to field measurement of suspended and bedload sediment transport first published in 1970. This updated version by Thomas K. Edwards and G. Douglas
Glysson (1999) provides instruction appropriate equipment and on the protocol for measurement of fluvial sediment transport. This report is useful because it helps in standardization of this important input parameter used in assessment and models of sediment transport in watersheds.

Sediment Delivery Inventory & Monitoring (Lewis et al., UCCE, 2001)

A method for water quality management in California rangelands, this UC Cooperative Extension guide provides landowners with a self-monitoring tool through the use of worksheets and photopoint monitoring.

California Geologic Maps (California Geological Survey)

This index contains lists of selected geologic mapping in California prepared by the Regional Geologic Mapping Project (RGMP). The RGMP staff monitors the literature and collects references that contain geologic mapping that may be useful for future compilations. Therefore, this index is not a comprehensive listing of geologic maps of California. In an effort to cover each 1:250,000 scale quadrangle with geologic mapping, selected graduate theses and unpublished maps have been included. In addition, Division of Mines and Geology (DMG) Open-File Reports that contain geologic mapping are indexed. More complete listings of graduate theses and DMG Open-File Reports can be found in separate indexes prepared by the RGMP and other DMG staff.

Geomorphology

Concepts and Modelling in Geomorphology (2003)

This online book (edited by I. S. Evans, R. Dikau, E. Tokunaga, H. Ohmori and M. Hirano) summarizes many basic concepts and ideas of landforms and their development, and provides a view of conceptual challenges and developments in geomorphology at the start of the 21st century. Most of the papers are concerned with both theoretical concepts or modelling, and comparisons with real-world data. They can be grouped into four sections:

Landform modelling, general considerations;
Material transport in landform modelling;
Fluvial landform structure: mathematical and physical laws; and
DEMs, GIS and modelling in geomorphology.

Water Quantity Assessment – Tools & Examples

Water Quantity - Streamflow, Flooding, Precipitation (Calif. Dept. of Water Resources)

Searchable database for surface water and groundwater quantity and quality, real time streamflow, flood conditions, precipitation, and more for all California water data collection stations.

Clean Water Team Volunteer Monitoring Guidance (State Water Resources Control Board)

Protocols for citizen monitoring are provided in this California guide. Parameters include sediment, flow, visual assessment, precipitation, thalweg, frogs & toads, vegetation, and avian resources.

Washington State Watershed Assessments & Water Rights (Wash. State DOE)

A central element of planning under the Washington Watershed Planning Act is an assessment of how much water is available and how much is being used and/or needed in the watershed. A "water balance," also known as a water budget, is a key piece of a watershed assessment. If the assessment indicates there is sufficient water for instream uses, including fish, and that there is additional water available for desired growth, then Ecology will use that information as part of the basis for making water-right permit decisions for growth.

Flood Frequency Estimation Program of USGS

The USGS has made available a computer program that allows estimation of magnitude and frequency of floods at sites without streamflow records. This procedure is the latest version of regression equations that have been under development for several decades. In addition to the software, the narrative report describing the basis of the procedure is available at this web site.

Statistical Methods in Water Resources Textbook

The Helsel and Hirsch statistics in water resources textbook is available as a USGS TWRI, a free pdf download. This book contains explanations of methods useful in hydrologic analysis and replaces the original out-of-print textbook originally published by Elsevier. The new reference, replacing the Elsevier version of the book, is: Helsel, D.R. And R.M. Hirsch, 2002, Statistical Methods in Water Resources, USGS Techniques of Water Investigations Book 4, Chapter A3, 510 pages.

Ground Water (USGS Report)

In order for the Nation to receive maximum benefit from its ground-water resource, it is essential that everyone, from the rural homeowner to managers of industrial and municipal water supplies to heads of Federal and State water-regulatory agencies, become more knowledgeable about the occurrence, development, and protection of ground water. This report has been prepared to help meet the needs of these groups, as well as the needs of hydrologists, well drillers, and others engaged in the study and development of ground-water supplies . It consists of 45 sections on the basic elements of ground-water hydrology, arranged in order from the most basic aspects of the subject through a discussion of the methods used to determine the yield of aquifers to a discussion of common problems encountered in the operation of ground-water supplies.

Ground & Surface Water Interactions (Conservation Information Technology Center)

The dynamic interactions between ground and surface water impacts aquifer water supply, stream flow, and water quality both bel9ow and above ground. This site gives basic information about some of these interacitons.

Aquatic Assessment- Methods

California Salmonid Stream Habitat Restoration Manual (California Dept. of Fish and Game, 1998, as revised)

This manual formally synthesizes and describes the California Department of Fish and Game's approach and technical methods for anadromous salmonid habitat restoration and monitoring. Broadly distributed and used as a "standard methods" text for habitat restoration and resource inventory, this edition includes: 1) project planning and project implementation; 2) the stream channel classification system developed by David Rosgen; 3) monitoring and evaluation; 4) a listing of all databases used for resource inventory and analysis as presented in the manual; 5) a protocol for a large woody debris inventory; 6) a description of required environmental review processes and permits; 7) an expanded and updated listing of sensitive species; and 8) numerous editorial changes to text and data forms. In 2003, a new section, "Part IX Fish Passage Evaluation at Stream Crossings", has been added to the manual.

Living Waters: Using Benthic Macroinvertebrates and Habitat to Assess Your River's Health (G. Dates, River Network)

This comprehensive resource describes how to design and carry out a river study using benthic macroinvertebrates. It provides background information about macroinvertebrates and the role they play in the river ecosystem, four options for monitoring them, the detailed procedures for each option and how to interpret and present your results. Also included are the following keys: A Dichotomous Key to the Freshwater Macroinvertebrate Fauna of New England, A Simple Picture Key to Freshwater Macroinvertebrates, and dichotomous keys to the Stonefly, Mayfly and Caddisfly families. 200 pgs. Partners $20, Others $25.

Benthic Macroinvertebrate Biological Monitoring Protocols for Rivers and Streams: 2001 Revision (Plotnikoff and Wiseman, Washington Department of Ecology)

This document describes the Washington State Department of Ecology's Freshwater Ambient Biological Assessment Program. Outlined within the document are: 1) the sampling design, 2) site selection process, 3) field implementation, 4) laboratory processing of data, and 5) analysis and interpretation of data. The document also includes all of the elements necessary to serve as a Quality Assurance Project Plan for biological monitoring. Field operations remain consistent with previous work (Plotnikoff 1992; 1994; 1998; 1999; Plotnikoff and Ehinger 1997). Relative to the original protocols document (Plotnikoff 1994), this revision provides additional detail for field operations, sub-sampling procedures, and data analysis procedures.

Rapid Bioassessment Protocols For Use in Streams and Wadeable Rivers: Periphyton, Benthic Macroinvertebrates, and Fish (Barbour, et al., USEPA, 2nd Ed., 1999)

As the technical guidance for biocriteria has been developed by EPA, states have found these protocols useful as a framework for their monitoring programs. This document was meant to have a self-corrective process as the science advances; the implementation by state water resource agencies has contributed to refinement of the original RBPs for regional specificity. This revision reflects the advancement in bioassessment methods since 1989 and provides an updated compilation of the most cost-effective and scientifically valid approaches.

Testing the Waters: Chemical and Physical Vital Signs of a River (Behar, River Network)

Questions are answered about the what, when, where and how to monitor your river for water quality. This manual, designed to meet the needs of high school teachers and community groups, covers nine water quality indicators, information you need design your study and deal with the data once you've carried it out, and how to use the information to take action. Each indicator chapter (physical survey, temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, pH, alkalinity, phosphate, nitrate and conductivity) is clearly written with background information, procedures for measuring them and great activities for teaching the information to students. 211 pgs. Partner $16. Others $20.

Aquatic Habitat Assessment (American Fisheries Society)

This American Fisheries Society online Aquatic Habitat Assessment e-book integrates two important recent books published to foster information sharing about aquatic habitats. The growing diversity of aquatic habitat assessment approaches used in the United States and Canada and the confusion of terminology used to describe aquatic habitats has made it increasingly difficult to share data across regions, provinces, states, and even through time within and among single agencies. The purpose of the manual and the glossary is to reduce the variability in approaches to aquatic habitat assessment and promote consistent use of terms to describe those aquatic environments. Aquatic Habitat Assessment: Common Methods represents the synthesis of a comprehensive survey of the most widely used methods for inland aquatic habitat assessment in North America. Sixteen method chapters detail step-by-step procedures for assessing and describing streams, rivers, and lakes. Aquatic Habitat Inventory Terminology Glossary contains clear, concise explanations for over 2,200 aquatic habitat terms. This glossary was developed to encourage the consistent and standard use of terminology used by workers who conduct inventories and analyses of aquatic habitats.

Riparian Assessments

Midscale Analysis of Streamside Characteristics in the Upper Grande Ronde Subbasin, Northeastern Oregon (USDA Forest Service, 2002)

Riparian or streamside areas are the focus of considerable management and public interest in the interior Northwest. Unfortunately, the vegetation and geomorphic characteristics of streamside areas are difficult to assess across large landscapes because streamside areas are geographically small in much of the arid interior. However, managers and scientists need methods to assess streamside conditions across large landscapes for land management planning, watershed analysis, and landscape simulation modeling. We present proposed methods for characterizing streamside vegetation and topography by using geographic information systems, terrain models, and photointerpreted vegetation maps. We propose application of resulting information for restoration planning and linkage to landscape wildlife and aquatic habitat models.

Stream Corridor Restoration: Principles, Processes, and Practices (Federal Interagency Stream Corridor Restoration Working Group, 2001)

This document was produced by the collective experience, skills, and techonology of 15 Federal agencies of the United States government. It is a benchmark document that is being used by these agencies, as well as many others who are interested in restoring the functions and values of the nation's stream corridors. It describes assessment methods and restoration planning.

Stream Riparian Bibliography

Annotated bibliography of over 8,000 riparian publication citations, with easy database search by author, title, keywords, dates, or publications. The joint efforts of the University of Washington, Center for Water and Watershed Studies (formerly Streamside Studies) and the U.S. Forest Service, Stream Systems Technology Center, Rocky Mountain Research Station produced this compilation of riparian references through an extensive search of literature and electronic databases. It is updated annually and is intended for a wide audience including aquatic ecologists, hydrologists, geomorphologists and policy makers. Sources include journals, government documents, books, monographic series, and conference proceedings.

Technical References for Landscape and Riparian Monitoring and Assessment (Bureau of Land Management, National Science and Technology Center)

These reports describe various methods for monitoring and assessing condition of rangelands, soils, plant communities, and riparian/fluvial systems. They also describe management of grazing activities to protect natural features and processes.

Road Assessment

Roads Analysis: Informing Decisions About Managing the National Forest Transportation System (USDA Forest Service, 1999)

This report describes the process that individual Forests should use to analyze their road systems for potential environmental impacts, economic and social benefits, and management opportunities.

Road Sedimentation Model (California Dept. of Forestry & Fire Protection)

Previous studies within forested watersheds in northern California have shown that the location and condition of the road within a watershed can have a significant effect on the amount of erosion associate with the road system. As a result many forests are developing road management plans to efficiently reduce road related sediment. A road sedimentation model, SEDMODL, was applied to the Caspar Creek watershed on the Jackson Demonstration State Forest in Mendocino County. The model was developed by Boise Cascade for forest lands in Idaho and Washington. The structure of the model is flexible enough to easily adopt it to forest lands in northern California.

Stormwater Manager's Resource Center (Center for Watershed Protection)

This site describes the various impacts of impervious surface creation on aquatic habitats. There are also links to modeling approaches to understanding the hydrology and hydraulics of managed systems with varying degrees of perviousness.

Vegetation Assessment – Tools

California Multi-Source Vegetation & Habitat Assessment (CDF-FRAP, 2002)

Land cover data provide the basis for FRAP analyses of wildlife habitat, water, grazing, and development impacts. No single mapping effort provides GIS data adequate to address this broad range of issues. Efforts to map land cover statewide typically provide insufficient resolution to capture types that occur as "inclusions", such as wet meadows, riparian areas, or certain types of development. Other efforts tend to focus on mapping land cover for a specific geographic area (e.g. bioregion, national park), or theme (e.g. wetlands, farmland). Since resources were targeted to a narrow focus, many of these efforts can make a reasonable claim to be the "best" for their respective area or theme. In order to provide the most solid basis for our analyses, FRAP staff made the decision to take advantage of these sources and merge them into a single GIS data layer. Merging data from multiple sources required addressing differences in scale, resolution, and consistency. In addition, each data source had to be cross-walked into a common classification system (California Wildlife Habitat Relationships, CWHR).

California Land Cover Mapping & Monitoring Program (CDF-FRAP)

The Fire and Resource Assessment Program (FRAP) of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the USDA Forest Service coordinate land cover mapping and monitoring within California. Remotely sensed data and GIS (geographic information systems) are used to accomplish the program objectives. This program generates data that describe the extent and condition of various land cover types, and the magnitude and cause (e.g. urbanization, natural succession, wildfire, and timber harvest) of land cover changes.

The Hardwood Rangeland Expert System (CDF-FRAP)

This study describes a state-and-transition model for hardwood rangelands that portrays vegetation dynamics at a particular site as a set of transitions between discrete and persistent vegetation conditions, or states. Either natural disturbances (e.g., weather, fire, herbivores) or management actions (e.g., grazing, burning, wood harvest, elimination or introduction of plant species, fertilization) can trigger transitions between states. Very often transitions require a particular combination of causes. Transitions may occur rapidly, as with fire, or over a period of many years, as with recruitment of trees. Yet, in either case the system crosses a threshold between states and cannot persist halfway through a transition.


Wildlife & Wildlife Habitat Assessment – Tools

California's Threatened & Endangered Animals & Plants (Calif. Dept. of Fish and Game)

Lists and photos of listed species, state and federal laws, and other pertinent materials in DFG’s Habitat Conservation Planning Branch.

California's Wildlife Habitat (CDFG) This State site includes:

Habitat Conservation and Management in California
Wildlife Habitats (Classification System, Statewide Habitat Map, Ecological Subregions of California)
A Manual of California Vegetation
Gap Analysis Program
National Gap Analysis Program
Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project
Wetlands Inventory and Conservation
Landscape and Habitat Photos, Cal

California's Wildlife & Habitat Data Branch (WHDAB) Index (CDFG)

A searchable data base for: Biological Info: Plants | Animals | Natural Communities | Habitats
Data Products: By Product Type | By Program | Order Forms | Product Support


Rangeland Assessment

Technical References for Landscape and Riparian Monitoring and Assessment (Bureau of Land Management, National Science and Technology Center)

These reports describe various methods for monitoring and assessing condition of rangelands, soils, plant communities, and riparian/fluvial systems. They also describe management of grazing activities to protect natural features and processes.

Rangeland Watershed Assessment (UC Coop. Extension)

Fuel Assessment

Fuel Rank Maps & Techniques (CDF-FRAP)

CDF has developed a Fuel Rank assessment methodology for the California Fire Plan to identify and prioritize pre-fire projects that reduce the potential for large catastrophic fire. The fuel ranking methodology assigns ranks based on expected fire behavior for unique combinations of topography and vegetative fuels under a given severe weather condition (wind speed, humidity, and temperature). The procedure makes an initial assessment of rank based on an assigned fuel model (see surface fuels) and slope.


Additional Tools

Scientific Units Conversion Factors

This USGS web site converts units and is useful to folks who have to deal with communication issues between disciplines that often use different units in reporting results of their investigations.

American Society of Civil Engineers, Searchable Database of Technical Studies

You can enter search terms corresponding to the type of information you are interested in, for example "urban AND watershed AND assessment". The studies retrieved are as abstracts, which can be used to decide whether or not to access the full articles/reports.

 

 

Watershed Information Systems

Yuba River Basin Environmental Information Interactive Web Site

This web site is designed to provide the user with a variety of ways of picturing the Yuba River watershed. There are photographs taken throughout the watershed showing different features of the natural and human-modified landscape. There are also digital representations of landscape features such as vegetation, hydrology, and ownership. These can be viewed either as "prepared digital maps" or using the geographic information system (GIS) ArcView on line (ArcWeb). The online GIS is linked to other environmental data for the watershed.

Watershed Information Model

WIM was designed by the Western Shasta RCD and Tetra Tech as a model, using public funds. In its current form, WIM showcases data, documents and photographs of 18 watersheds in the greater Shasta County area, which are all part of the headwaters of the Upper Sacramento River Watershed. The data currently displayed on WIM is the most readily available public data for this region of Northern California. Featured content includes Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data, written documents and photographs, including watershed assessments, erosion inventories, fuels reduction plans, watershed management plans, research reports, project reports, water quality data, etc.

KRIS

The Klamath Resource Information System (KRIS) integrates different types of information (maps, documents, photos, data and charts) into a PC-based computer program. KRIS has been applied to watersheds throughout northern California where it enables sharing of information among agencies, private land owners and citizens. The KRIS software includes tools for dynamic map viewing, working with data, updating contents and searching bibliographic resources. Completed KRIS projects are available on CD and on the internet [www.krisweb.com].