The Intensive Survey Monitoring Program incorporates data collection activities that support the Success Monitoring Program, the development of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) or TMDL alternatives for 303(d)-listed impairments and monitoring for other special projects. The data collected by the Intensive Survey Program may be used by other programs within DOW for activities such as water quality standards development or water quality assessments for section 305(b).
The initial program of success monitoring in Kentucky began in the early 2000s, but didn’t develop into a defined program for several years. The Division of Water (DOW) nonpoint source program re-introduced success monitoring in 2013 with the onset of the National Water Quality Initiative Program through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The Success Monitoring Program was then refined with an intent to track effectiveness of Best Management Practices (BMPs) implemented through the watershed planning process. Planning success monitoring for individual streams and watersheds was derived partly from the Environmental Protection Agency’s water quality measures, and through DOW’s mission statement.
Water quality improvement success can be demonstrated in a number of ways, but the monitoring will focus primarily on showing change in a designated use category (primary or secondary contact recreation, aquatic life, OSRW, etc.). Ideally, data gathered from this program will influence decisions on types of BMPs that are most effective, remove streams from the 303(d) list, and allow the Division to demonstrate successful on-the-ground work to state and federal agencies.
TMDL or TMDL Alternative Monitoring
Once a lake, stream segment or other waterbody has been assessed as impaired and placed on the 303(d) a TMDL must be developed. The first step in developing a TMDL is to gather all existing data collected by the Division of Water. Data generated outside of state government may be requested from the collecting agency if the data were collected under an approved quality assurance project plan (QAPP). Once existing data have been compiled, it is frequently discovered that additional water quality, biological, bacteriological, and discharge data are necessary to develop TMDLs or to confirm use support. In these cases, TMDL monitoring projects are initiated.
The Intensive Survey section uses an intensive approach to monitoring watersheds selected for TMDL development. As a result, watershed monitoring occurs over two or three years. During the first year of sampling, data collection focuses on confirming the nature of the impairments and possible sources of those impairments. During the second year, targeted sampling for identified causes within the impaired segment(s) occurs. The second year also can include data collection in smaller, un-assessed tributaries that were not sampled during the first year of monitoring but may be contributing to the identified impairment. A third year of monitoring may be warranted if data gaps still exist.
The Intensive Survey Section can apply the intensive approach to monitoring in watersheds for other projects, as needed. Each intensive survey project has a detailed study plan that outlines the geographic boundary of the study, the field activities involved, the types and number of samples required, and the analyses and reports to be generated. Schedules for specific activities and goals for the project are included. The following types of samples or measurements may be collected depending on the specific goals of the intensive survey:
- Water chemistry concentrations including: nutrients, metals, total dissolved solids, total suspended solids, chloride
- Water quality multi-parameter meter readings: water temperature, specific conductance, pH, dissolved oxygen
- Discharge measurements
- E. coli concentrations
- Habitat assessments
- Fish, benthic algae, and macroinvertebrate collection and identification