SMART Monitoring Technical Memoranda

 

SMART Monitoring

“SMART” is the acronym for Strategic Monitoring and Assessment for River basin Teams. The SMART program was specifically designed for the Massachusetts Watershed Initiative and for the empowerment of the watershed teams that are the heart of the effort.  The SMART program included a focus on outreach, collaboration and technical assistance to watershed groups, as well as a long-term monitoring program to identify long-term trends in water quality in key rivers in Central Massachusetts.  The monitoring component of the SMART program was implemented from 1998 to 2013 and was specifically designed for the Massachusetts Watershed Initiative and for the empowerment of the watershed teams that were the heart of the effort.

SMART Program Technical Memoranda

The SMART program was implemented in six (6) basins in MassDEP’s Central Region from 1998-2013 through the cooperative efforts of the Division of Watershed Management, the Wall Experiment Station, the Nashua River Watershed Association, and MassDEP’s Central Regional Office.

As the name implies, the program included a monitoring strategy and assessment tools and guidance for team monitoring roles:

1. Monitoring Strategy – SMART consisted of three coordinated monitoring networks:

  1. Statewide – a small group of stations that provided a yearly snapshot of statewide trends.  This information was used to evaluate the success of our regulatory programs, identify vulnerable resources, and provide information on natural variability necessary to develop ecoregion-based water quality standards.
  2. Rotating Basin – a dense network of stations on the 5-year basin cycle provided basin planning information for the issuance of NPDES and Water Management Act permits.  It also provided a status report on the major rivers and, where necessary, modeling and loading information for TMDLs.
  3. Local – volunteer monitors that extended the reach of federal and state monitoring programs to tributaries and headwater streams not previously sampled.  These streams comprise 75% of the river miles in the state and are the areas most vulnerable to the impacts of nonpoint source pollutants.

2. Assessment Tool – A SMART report card was prepared for each river based on the monitoring information.  The purpose of water quality report cards such as those in the SMART program is to make the information available and understandable to everyone participating in water quality protection and restoration in each watershed.  Raw data for each stream assessed in the basin is compiled under 8 subjects:

  • Biodiversity
  • Water Quality
  • Sediment Quality
  • Habitat
  • Water Quantity
  • Recreation
  • Aesthetics
  • Fish Edibility

Each subject is color coded under a pass/fail system summarizing the available data. The report card encapsulates available information in one or two pages, and points out gaps in information for future planning.

3.Team Monitoring Roles – Under the SMART approach, monitoring roles for each team group were allocated based on individual interests and expertise. State and federal monitoring roles have been fairly well defined, but the Team environment constantly presents new opportunities for effective partnerships. The most exciting challenge was in developing the role of volunteers.  The SMART program worked with volunteers to screen not-previously sampled areas for more intensive sampling during Year Two of the 5-year cycle. Volunteers continue to work directly with MassDEP’s regional office(s) on local “hot spots” that fall outside of the 5-year cycle. Data collection conducted by volunteer groups emphasized low level biological monitoring for screening, habitat monitoring for nonpoint source impacts and bacterial sampling for hot spots.

4. Monitoring Reports - Below are monitoring reports for six watershed basins: