The Division of Watershed Management's (DWM) Standard Operating Procedure for Data Validation and Usability sets forth the steps currently taken to validate and verify environmental monitoring data. It provides guidance for accepting, qualifying, or rejecting data from a variety of sources. DWM's data validation process includes the review of both field-recorded data and laboratory analytical data for conformance with the data quality objectives established in project-specific or programmatic QAPPs. These measures are taken in addition to separate quality assurance and quality control activities performed at WES or any other analytical laboratory.
Results of the DWM data review process are documented in annual data validation reports that present the final recommendations with respect to the acceptability and suitability of the data for their intended purpose. Following this determination, data are entered with applicable qualifiers into electronic databases for storage and dissemination. The DWM currently maintains approximately a dozen electronic databases at various stages of development and use. Several of these are Access database structures designed to store environmental data generated by internal monitoring program elements such as surface water quality, lake macrophytes, and benthic macroinvertebrates. Others are assessment databases or waterbody inventories that parse Massachusetts' rivers, lakes and coastal waterbodies into segments of manageable size for assessment and reporting convenience.
Information contained in the DWM databases is essential to MassDEP in order to meet key obligations to EPA under the Clean Water Act as defined in the annual Performance Partnership Agreement (PPA) and to the EOEA under the Massachusetts Watershed Initiative. Such deliverables as watershed assessment reports, 305(b) reports, 303(d) lists, water quality maps, and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) are generated from the monitoring, assessment and modeling activities performed by the DWM. These activities are, in turn, supported by the less visible, but critically important functions relating to data management, including QA/QC, database development and maintenance, and linking to Geographical Information Systems (GIS). The DWM continually receives requests to make their information and data available to MassDEP regional offices, USEPA, Watershed Teams and the general public. This is a key goal of ongoing database development and GIS program activities.