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Use AquaQAPP to plan your monitoring project.

AquaQAPP is a web-based application which helps monitoring program managers develop project-specific Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPPs) for fresh/marine/estuarine water quality, and benthic communities in wadeable streams and coastal near-shore.

MassBays National Estuary Partnership

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Before you embark on preparing a QAPP, consider how you’d like your data to be used, which in turn will inform your data quality objectives, or DQOs. If your program is focused on the process of sampling rather than the resulting data – for example, it is an activity designed for educational or community engagement purposes only – MassBays recommends that you take a more qualitative approach to evaluating your results. In fact, you may not want to undertake a full-fledged QAPP at all. We suggest use of AquaQAPP for monitoring efforts designed for scientific investigations or to inform policy action (which require more rigor around data evaluation).

For a list of materials to have in hand as you work with AquaQAPP, see Section 2 of the User Guide.

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AquaQAPP functions like a wizard that uses user-provided content to generate a custom QAPP. As users proceed through the AquaQAPP screens, they are prompted to enter the following information on individual screens:

  • Details about the citizen science organization and relevant personnel.
  • Project information and background.
  • Water quality concerns motivating the project.
  • Data quality objectives.
  • Project schedule.
  • Monitoring locations.
  • Parameters to be measured and analytical methods used to quantify them.
  • Information about record handling procedures.
  • Plans for data management.

Once all screens are completed, AquaQAPP will generate the QAPP as a Microsoft Word document. The cover sheet to the generated QAPP is a customized checklist for completing the generated QAPP. It will be nearly complete, with the exception of tables that require user input to the Word document, and required attachments.

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  1. Supporting documents

    The files below contain all you will need to complete your Quality Assurance Project Plan using AquaQAPP:

    The User Guide provides an "at-a-glance" overview of the application, step-by-step instructions for using AquaQAPP, and attachments to provide additional guidance regarding sampling design,  lab selection, and data quality objectives.

    The Forms and Templates is an Excel workbook containing all forms referenced in AquaQAPP. You can download the file and select and adapt the relevant forms for your own project. (A cover sheet to the generated QAPP will include a list of forms to be attached.)

    Field Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) describe and document methods for collecting samples, along with equipment lists, and storage and handling procedures. The relevant SOPs should be attached to the final QAPP, and then used to train volunteers carrying out sampling.

  2. Data management

    Data management is an critical aspect of a robust monitoring program. Archiving and sharing your data increases its use for decision making and makes all of the hard work that goes into monitoring worthwhile!

    Data cycle components include: Planning, Data collection and management, Data review, Data archiving, Data analysis, and Reporting.
    AquaQAPP and WQX help monitoring groups plan for, collect, and archive data.

    For data archiving and sharing, MassBays recommends using EPA's Water Quality eXchange (WQX), the mechanism for contributing data to the national Water Quality Portal (WQP). Data contributed through WQX are available for  download by partners, and viewing through EPA's How's My Waterway tool. Some tips for using WQX:

    1. Create an account.

    2. Format data into a WQX (Excel-based) template for Physical/Chemical, Biological, or Habitat data.

    3. Upload to WQX.

    MassBays will also be developing new statistical analysis packages as well as a Massachusetts-specific Ecohealth Tracking Tool that work with and display data extracted directly from WQX.

    For more information and assistance with data management, including WQX template selection and customization and data analysis, contact Jill.Carr@mass.gov

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Who should use AquaQAPP?

MassBays produced AquaQAPP with funding from EPA and MassDEP, to be used by organizations that plan to share their water quality and benthic assessment data with others, whether via a website or government portal. The indended audience is program managers designing programs that have not received governmental funding, and/or are interested in generating a robust QAPP for their own purposes.

Use of AquaQAPP is not required. However, by using AquaQAPP to document and plan for collection of quality assured data, a monitoring program’s QAPP is considered pre-approved by MassDEP and deemed acceptable by EPA, and agency review is not required prior to sampling. This pre-approval is valid so long as samples are collected and analyzed in strict accordance with the QAPP generated by the application which has not been significantly altered from the original output. “Not significantly altered” means that the user has not made or will not make changes to collection protocols, analytical methods, or other substantive content included in the generated QAPP.

Organizations that have received funding from MassDEP or EPA to carry out their monitoring program are required to complete a program QAPP prior to field work. AquaQAPP may be used in those cases as well, but the generated QAPP must be reviewed by the funding agency prior to field work.

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