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Volunteer Resources
Guidance on Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPP)

Surface water monitoring by individual volunteers, school groups, stream teams, watershed associations, and others is a valuable component of DEP's approach to watershed management. Data collected through such efforts may be used by MassDEP to support surface water quality assessments. 

The primary benefits of qualitative and quantitative data collection by citizen groups are:

  • Increased awareness of watershed-specific environmental issues by data gatherers, data users and the general public. Information gathered by watershed inhabitants is especially useful with regard to non-point pollution during episodic events (e.g. rainfall runoff from eroding streambanks, farms, construction sites, parking lots, etc.) and to help identify and document pollution sources. Advocates often use such data to educate residents about ways to preserve and improve environmental quality.
  • Greater potential for additional stewardship actions by volunteers and others. Volunteer monitoring can help motivate interested citizens and groups to beneficial action intended to protect and restore natural areas and water quality, and
  • Generation of usable data of known and documented quality that can be used to assess the health of specific waterbodies and to evaluate the need and potential for capital improvements and funding. Consistent with DEP's Quality Management Plan, DWM requires that volunteer and other sources of information meet the following criteria:
    • Implementation of a DEP-approved Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP), including the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be used for field sampling and laboratory analyses. Guidance on developing a volunteer QAPP can be found below.
    • Use of an analytical laboratory with proven capabilities for the applicable analyses, well-documented SOPs and a QA Plan. The Wall Experiment Station maintains a current list of State-certified laboratories (preferred) - see Certified Laboratories .
    • The information is documented in a citable report, which includes discussion of quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC), as well as data management.

Questions regarding volunteer water quality monitoring can be directed to Therese Beaudoin at therese.beaudoin@state.ma.us.

Volunteer Resources

Guidance on Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP)