Links and Glossary

Links

Check out these links to find additional organizations and lists of resources supporting community water science.


Glossary

WDC provides this glossary to help develop a common lexicon in the field to assist coordination and integration among community scientists and across other sectors.

  • Acute refers to a type of exposure to a toxic substance or pollutant the results in death. Acute exposure relative to an organism’s tolerance to a particular substance is high in magnitude, short in duration and only needs to happen once to cause death. An example might include radiation like Cherynobyl or ingesting cyanide.Thresholds are determined in laboratory tests and often result in LC50 concentrations or the concentration where 50% of the organisms perish. Policies convert these numbers into a chronic standard that cannot be exceeded one time in three years for enforcement.
  • Acidity (pH) outside a certain range can sicken or kill fish and other aquatic life. Highly acidic or alkaline water can also release pollutants from sediments that can further harm aquatic life. Acidity in waterways is influenced by rock and soils, as well as human sources such as industrial and car emissions, mining, and agricultural runoff.
  • Naturally occurs in many water ecosystems, excess algae can occur when too many nutrients, warm water temperatures, and reduced flow trigger the overgrowth of naturally occurring algae into thick mats on or in the water. Blooms of algae can harm aquatic life by clogging fish gills, reducing oxygen levels, and smothering stream and lake beds and submerged vegetation. Some algae blooms can produce poisons that harm human health, pets, wildlife, and livestock when touched, inhaled, or swallowed.
  • Occurs naturally in water in trace amounts, but too much ammonia from fertilizers, sewage and other wastes can be poisonous to fish, especially when water temperature and pH are high. Ammonia can also cause heavy plant growth, foul odors, and low oxygen levels that can interfere with use for fishing, swimming and water supplies. Ammonia acts as a form of nitrogen in the environment, and too much can lead to nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) pollution.
  • The act of taking data or numbers and applying a process that anyone else could repeat to find the story in the data.  Products of analyses can include metrics like averages, medians, maximum, minimums, percentiles, some visualization (graphs, map of exceedances, etc.) and robust statistics.  Each method has its purpose. WDC analyses methods should be documented and are driven by information needs of targeted data users, their use and monitoring purpose.
  • In computer programming, an application programming interface (API) is a set of subroutine definitions, protocols, and tools for building software. In general terms, it is a set of clearly defined methods of communication between various components. A good API makes it easier to develop a computer program by providing all the building blocks, which are then put together by the programmer. An API may be for a web-based system, operating system, database system, computer hardware, or software library. An API specification can take many forms, but often includes specifications for routines, data structures, object classes, variables, or remote calls. POSIX, Windows API and ASPI are examples of different forms of APIs. Documentation for the API is usually provided to facilitate usage and implementation
  • Degraded aquatic habitat occurs when naturally occurring stream channels are changed or diverted through man made channels and/or removal of native vegetation from shorelines and stream banks. These actions reduce the habitat that fish and other animals need to reproduce, feed, and find shelter, and can also affect the appearance and value of waterfront property.
  • Refers to any biological life that lives and depends upon water for life, such as fish, zooplankton like shrimp, macroinvertebrates like stoneflies or blackflies and microorganisms like e-coli, bacteria, all plant life from periphyton, all types of algae to cattails and all plant life in between that depends upon water. Degraded aquatic life means that the biological community normally expected in a lake, stream or other waterway is unhealthy, much reduced, or absent, and the exact pollutant cause is not known
  • Excess Aquatic Weeds choke waterways, degrade healthy aquatic habitats, and interfere with recreational uses such as swimming, fishing, and boating. Growth of excess aquatic weeds is caused by fertilizers, leaking septic tanks, pet and livestock wastes, sewage overflows,  and flow alterations.
  • Waters where data or information exists to understand that water bodies condition, status, use, environment or equivalent.  That assessment can be formal completed by states, territories, and tribes for their physical, chemical, and biological properties to determine whether the waters meet water quality standards and support designated uses or informal, determined by locals for example.  
  • A tool WDC uses to help design an effective monitoring program and maps all  unique combinations of a monitoring purpose, data use, data user and desired result, outcome or impact for a monitoring program.  This process connects every parameter, monitoring location and information product to an identified who, why and data objective.
  • Potentially disease-causing organisms from human or animal waste that enter water from faulty septic systems, sewage discharges, farm and feedlot manure runoff, boat discharges, and pet waste. People can become ill by eating contaminated fish or shellfish or swimming in waters with high levels of these microbes.
  •  The retention and concentration of a pollutant in an organism or in the food chain.
  • Toxins produced by aquatic plants and microbes when swallowed or touched can sicken or even kill fish, shellfish, pets, livestock, wildlife, and people.   The leading producers of these poisons in freshwater are blue-green algae, which can bloom into thick mats when high temperatures, still water, low water levels, and high nutrient levels are present.
  • Used as a disinfectant and bleaching agent, is poisonous to fish and other aquatic animals at low levels. Discharges from swimming pools, storm water drains, industrial and sewage treatment facilities, and marinas can be sources of chlorine in waterways.
  • Refers to a type of exposure to a toxic substance or pollutant that results in any condition, effect or impact that disrupts normal or healthy function and may eventually lead to death.  Chronic exposure relative to an organism’s tolerance to a particular substance is low in magnitude, long in duration and occurs frequently. An example might be second hand smoke or drinking lead contaminated water. Thresholds are determined in laboratory tests and often result in LC50 concentrations or the concentration where 50% of the organisms show effects.  Policies convert these numbers into a chronic standard that cannot be exceeded one time in three years for enforcement. 
  • Synonymous for Community Science, Volunteer Monitoring and other names for identifying the act of citizens engaged in science, independent of the degree of their participation or their goals, monitoring purpose, data uses or desired outcomes.  The WDC uses Community Science as the term to represent this act.
  • Regionals service centers that provide NGO’s, citizen scientists and volunteer monitoring groups access to training, resources and support in all areas of the Collaborations workflow including monitoring design, data collection, management, analyses, reporting, visualization, modeling, discovery, publishing to achieve their water protection and restoration goals.
  • Platform built to support the thousands of volunteers from all levels of experience that are utilizing SOS protocols, or partner organization protocols, contribution types to the Hub can consist of photo campaigns to collect data of a known quality.
  • Synonymous for Citizen Science, Volunteer Monitoring and other names for identifying the act of citizens engaged in science, independent of the degree of their participation or their goals, monitoring purpose, data uses or desired outcomes.  The WDC uses Community Science as the term to represent this act.
  • A data use, often requiring high quality rigorous data sets, is often lumped with enforcement or legal monitoring data uses.   Data used for enforcement can fulfill any monitoring purpose, condition or trend, impact, effectiveness or use assessment.
  • Used to describe the state, situation, environment, status or equivalent of a waterbody, wetland or resource of interest. That description can be formal or informal, regulatory or personal.  Conditions can be assessed using one parameter or multiple parameters and lines of evidence. A variety of processes, technology and methods exist to assess conditions. 
  • Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. sponsored by the National Science Foundation, is a 501(c)3 research organization representing more than 130 U.S. universities and international water science-related organizations. CUAHSI receives support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop infrastructure and services for the advancement of water science in the United States.
  • The task of transforming raw data into information or insights through processes such as data summaries, metrics or statistics (maximums, minimums, averages, percentiles, etc.), modeling and graphing that is repeatable by others.
  • Individual or groups whose goal is to collect data for protecting or restoring our Nation’s waters (broadly defined), independent of scale (national, regional, state or local), and may include non governmental organizations (NGOs), citizen scientist and volunteer monitoring groups working with others including private and governmental agencies.
  • The task of interpreting verified or analyzed data and drawing conclusions from that analysis  using best professional practices, moving data from information to outcomes and results. Conclusions will vary even when the same set of verified or analyzed data is employed.
  • The task of interpreting verified or analyzed data and developing recommendations from that analysis  using best professional practices, moving data from information to outcomes and results. Recommendations will vary even when the same set of verified or analyzed data is employed.
  • The result of data or analyses that went through an interpretation, recommendation and/or conclusion process in which actions are taken.  This process can be formal or informal, simple or rigorous. Examples of actions might include a beach closure, a discharge shut down, treatment started, a dam removed, policy or regulatory changes.  Actions are often a desired outcome, result or impact of a monitoring program.
  • A general term describing a particular  view or display of data and information that is unique or meaningful to the data user.  It may contain tables, numbers, graphs, maps, text, metrics, video’s, images, combinations as an example, but provides the user the information they need to complete their analyses, task or job.  The source and quality of the data may or may not be apparent on a given dashboard. 
  • The task of managing and storing data and associated metadata in a format and in data platforms that it is readily found and available for others to “find” and use, well beyond its original purpose. 
  • A formalized, structured source of open water data, that for our purposes contains multiple sources of data.
  • The task of effectively and efficiently organizing raw data generated from all monitoring activity types for analyses, conclusions, action, decision making, reporting, delivery, visualization or use that results in outcomes and impact.
  • Publishing datasets in this context refers to putting data in a usable format, with adequate and sufficient meta-data and providing it to open data repositories, data hubs and web services to be discovered, available and used well beyond the original intended purpose.
  • The act of delivering data and/or information to targeted data users, who then use the data for their data use to achieve your monitoring purpose and results, outcomes and impact.  WDC uses this as an overall term for the plan to get information generated to its intended audience and use. The report can be in many forms (See information products). 
  • Sharing is the task of designing your monitoring program to manage data in a way that allows you to share it with other entities, giving your data a longer life than just one use. Sharing data may take many forms from hard copies, reports to making data available electronically.   
  • Sometimes called data quality objectives, characterized the quality of data necessary to achieve monitoring purpose, data uses and the information needs of data users in order to achieve desired results, outcomes and impacts from monitoring programs. These can be simple or complex, formal or informal and depend on the program.  A program that wants others to know the quality of data being generated, so the data can be used by others, will have some documentation, even if only a statement on data quality.  A Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) is an accepted format to tell others what data quality you plan to generate and how (the things you do) to achieve that quality.   WCD advocates it is a best management practice, independent of monitoring purpose and data uses, to document data quality and plans to achieve that quality, appropriately for each program. 
  • The uses, decision processes, management actions and the like where the data is put to use by specific data users to achieve monitoring purpose and desired monitoring results, outcomes and impacts.  Examples of data uses that could serve the same monitoring purpose and even the same data, include education, engagement, research, watershed planning, policy development, restoration, protection, regulatory, compliance or enforcement.   Each data use is associated with specific data users and information needs that ‘use’ the data for this purpose. 
  • The specific users of the data generated, for the identified data uses (see Data Uses) for the identified monitoring purposes. As data users, use the data, they help you achieve study design desired results, outcomes and impact.  Examples of data users include, youth, farmers, marina owners, urban households, specific divisions, programs or responsibilities.  Their decision process and information needs drive the quality of data that needs to be generated, what, where and when to collect and what information will be generated and how delivered for a monitoring program.  
  • The task of illustrating data in graphs over space and time, using geographic information systems (GIS), data dashboards, graphic representations and other ways to illustrate data patterns or behavior in a format other than tables and lists.
  • Highly toxic chemicals used in some manufacturing processes, can build up in the food chain. They may settle in sediment or on aquatic plants, then eaten and concentrated by fish, other aquatic life, wildlife, and people. Dioxins are formed unintentionally by burning trash or leaded gasoline and as waste byproducts from manufacturing some pesticides. Dioxins are considered likely to increase cancer risk and may harm the immune system, hormone levels, and fetal development.
  • Refers to a substance entering a waterbody that likely is not native or natural in this context, it often is discrete from a pipe or identifiable point source. It is also a measurement of how much water, volume of water, is in a particular river see flow.
  • “Do it Yourself”
  • Water treated sufficient for human consumption, i.e. humans will not get sick. Drinking water can come from an individual well, private collection and delivery systems or public utilities.
  • A common data use, generating data to educate, inform or increase awareness or knowledge of a target audience, in order for them to make informed decisions or actions that achieve desired results, outcomes or impacts.Data used for education can fulfill any monitoring purpose, condition or trend, impact, effectiveness or use assessment. 
  • Includes the objective to identify the effectiveness of a particular action, such as a management action, policy or regulation decision, a behavior change or implementation of a project. 
  • Refers to discharge from a point source, maybe be permitted or allowed, may not be.  
  • A data use, often requiring high quality rigorous data sets, is often lumped with compliance or legal monitoring data uses.   Data used for enforcement can fulfill any monitoring purpose, condition or trend, impact, effectiveness or use assessment.
  • A common desired result for many monitoring programs, especially citizen, community science or volunteer monitoring programs is engagement of a targeted audience in an organization, a project, a movement, etc..  Data used for engagement can fulfill any monitoring purpose, condition or trend, impact, effectiveness or use assessment. 
  • The term WDC uses to review intent, progress, quality and success of any step along or within the WDC framework or work flow.  The evaluation can be summative (assessment of study design or overall plan or project against goals, results, outcomes or impacts from implementing the study design, etc.) or formative (specific workflows like sample collection, data entry). See definitions of Formative and Summative Evaluations.
  • Refer to thresholds, standards and regulations that are designed to identify and protect human health in regards to ingesting fish or shellfish that may be contaminated.
  • Large numbers of dead fish in a localized area – may be due to water conditions such as low flow, high temperature, low oxygen levels, harmful algal blooms, or spills of oil or toxic pollutants. 
  • The amount of water in a river, calculated with a meter, which is using length, depth and width along with velocity to deliver a flow.  Abnormal flow refers to changes in river or stream volume caused by removing water for irrigation or industrial use, drinking water supply, and by alterations from dams to hold and release water on a man-made cycle. Reduced flow can lower oxygen levels, raise water temperatures, cause build-up of sediment and pollutants, destroy aquatic wildlife habitat, and degrade swimming, boating, and fishing.  
  • The task and processes of reviewing methods, procedures, workflows, training and equivalent elements of a monitoring program to ensure they are producing desired results.  A quality assurance plan has many formative evaluations. Many Standard Operating Procedures have formative evaluations built into them.  See Summative Evaluation to ensure your program has both evaluation processes
  • A Geographic Information System (GIS), is a framework for gathering , organizing, managing, and analyzing data, with an underlying spatial context. GIS data can be displayed in 2D or 3D environments, and results from analyses can be used for informed decision making within a geographic context.  
  • The supply of freshwater found beneath the Earth’s surface, usually in aquifers, which supply wells and springs for drinking water.
  • Hydrologic unit codes are watershed sizes that can be compared in some way and easily mapped. HUC 2’s are the largest watersheds whereas HUC 12’s are a local watershed size that includes all tributaries. Many state and federal agencies use HUCs for management and assessment purposes.  A HUC 8 is represented by 8 digits, a HUC 12 with 12 digits.  Each digit represents the largest watershed size down to the smallest in that size class. 
  • What happens as a product of implementing a study design and monitoring program. Impacts are lumped with desired outcomes and results.  They can be a mix of tangible and intangible, short and long term goals. Examples include a closed beach, dam deconstruction, restored waters or uses, policy change, management change, etc. Each program should identify and measure desired impacts. Impact monitoring objectives include collecting data to determine the impact of something positive or negative, such as the impact of climate change, a discharge, a behavior, a policy, a spill, a natural disaster, etc.  
  • A condition that describes a status, condition, situation, environment or equivalent of a water body, use or equivalent.  The description can be formal, like a regulation or information, say from an individual or a group. 
  • A substance that is used to show visually (often by a change in color) the condition of a solution with respect to a particular material. Indicators are used in many tests, such as a titration or pH strip. Indicator is different from a parameter.
  • The term WDC uses to lump all products that are produced from generating data and turning that data into information for a data user to consume and use in their decision process. Some products might analyze the data, interpret, visualize the data or make the published and discoverable.  This is a large bucket that includes raw data, websites, reports, presentations, report cards, story maps, warnings or alerts, importing to the National Water Quality Portal, maps that show results and many many more.  
  • A data use that is less specific than other data uses, the goal in some ways is to refine the question and then the monitoring.   This data use will often lead to identifying a more specific monitoring purpose and related data use. It also may advance an education or engagement type of effort.  Data used for inquiry can fulfill any monitoring purpose, condition or trend, impact, effectiveness or use assessment.
  • Currently, the Internet of Water is a concept for how to connect fragmented water data through a federated network of water data producers, hubs, and users. In the future it may refer to a community gathered around a set of guiding principles. 
  • The term WDC uses for the act of taking data or numbers generated from data collection and turning it into information and making statements about that information. Statements include observations, recommendations, conclusions, actions to be taken and the like.  They are a function of the interpreter and may have bias, unintended or intended  WDC advocates; the best management practice is to identify the interpretation process that will be employed by data users for transparency, credibility and to measure and evaluate success.
  • Foreign aquatic plants and animals that are not native to the region (brought in from elsewhere) but have become too crowded in the waterway. Overgrowth can interfere with oxygen levels in the water, threaten survival of fish and other animals, make waterways unattractive, reduce property value, and degrade or prevent recreational uses including swimming, fishing, and boating
  • A common data use for many monitoring programs, including policy or regulatory changes, enforcement, funding or some examples.  Data used for Management decisions can fulfill any monitoring purpose, condition or trend, impact, effectiveness or use assessment. 
  • In science, is the substance through which something is being sampled or a collection is being taken and in this context would be water, soil, air types of categories. 
  • Occurs naturally in rocks and coal. Airborne mercury is converted in water by bacteria into a toxic form called methyl-mercury which accumulates in the food-chain. Mercury can build up in fish, which then poses health risks to people and animals that eat fish. Spills and improper treatment and disposal of mercury containing products or wastes are among other top sources of mercury in water.  
  • Metals enter waterways from factories, mining, and runoff from urban areas, as well as from natural processes such as erosion of soil and rocks. At high levels, all metals such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, selenium, and zinc can be toxic to aquatic animals and humans. 
  • The process of attempting to replicate complicated natural, hydrological, physiochemical, and ecological systems through numerical values, equations, and relationships. Models are iteratively developed and refined until they can accurately duplicate observed conditions, and are then used to extrapolate results where data is limited, or used to develop predictions, or test scenarios.
  • Synonymous with Study design or monitoring plan. See Study Design.
  • Synonymous with Study design or monitoring design. See Study Design.   
  • Synonymous with monitoring questions and are the questions you want data you are collecting to answer. They can be specific or general. They serve your monitoring purpose and data uses.
  • All aspects of a succinct effort to gather data.  This includes the study or monitoring design or plan which defines the why, who, scope, data objectives and quality and desired results, outcomes and impacts.  The plan directs the technical, information and evaluation components of monitoring, which include the data collection and analyses, data management, turning data into information and products, delivering that information and summative and formative evaluations.
  • The reason you are collecting data at a high level.  WDC uses major categories for purpose, baseline, trend, impact assessment, effectiveness assessment or use assessment. Within these purposes are different types of data uses, management decisions, data users and information needs. 
  • Murky Water (turbidity) refers to water that is cloudy, muddy or opaque (turbid) because of suspended soil particles, algae, microbes, or organic matter. These tiny particles can absorb heat and raise water temperatures, reduce oxygen for aquatic animals, reduce native aquatic plant growth, clog fish gills and smother fish eggs and aquatic insects. 
  • In excessive amounts can cause aquatic plants and microbes to grow too fast, choking waterways, causing potentially harmful algae blooms, and creating low oxygen conditions that can harm fish and other aquatic life.
  • Discharges or releases to waterways from non discrete sources like a parking lot, agricultural field, mountain side, highway or road, construction sites, tailing or waste piles, landfills, etc. 
  • Native flora and fauna includes aquatic plants and animals that are indigenous  to the region (not brought in from elsewhere) but have become too crowded in the waterway. Overgrowth can interfere with oxygen levels in the water, threaten survival of fish and other animals, make waterways unattractive, reduce property value, and degrade or prevent recreational uses including swimming, fishing, and boating
  • Any substances, like nitrogen and phosphorus, assimilated by living things that promote growth.
  • US Geological Survey’s data repository “National Water Information System”, available via the National Water Quality Protocol (NWP)
  • Includes fuel oil, gasoline, vegetable oil, and animal fats. Oils generally enter waterways through spills, leaks, and improper disposal, and can be toxic to plants and animals even in small amounts. 
  • Research outputs which are distributed online and free of cost or other barriers, and possibly with the addition of a Creative Commons license to promote reuse.
  • Data that can be freely used, re-used, and redistributed by anyone, subject, at most to the requirement to attribute the source of the data.
  • Denoting software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified
  • What happens as a product of implementing a study design and monitoring program. Outcomes are lumped with desired results and impacts.  They can be a mix of tangible and intangible, short and long term goals. Examples include a closed beach, dam deconstruction, restored waters or uses, policy change, management change, etc.  Each program should identify and measure desired outcomes.
  • From a monitoring program are products and deliverables that can be counted, such as stations monitored, parameters measured, volunteers trained, lab tests run.  These are different from outcomes. 
  • Low Oxygen levels in water can occur naturally for short periods, but when they are extreme or long-lasting, they can sicken and even kill fish and other aquatic life. Sewage wastewater, leaking septic tanks, farm and feedlot runoff, and stormwater runoff contain organic materials that decompose and use up oxygen in water. Higher water temperatures can lead to lower oxygen levels.  Waters devoid of oxygen are called anaerobic.
  • In this context is a term for a specific item being monitored, a chemical parameter lead or nitrogen, a physical chemical parameter like temperature.  A physical parameter might be discharge, substrate composition or width.  A biological parameter might be macroinvertebrates, cyanobacteria, e coli or fish.  The result of generating data about a  particular parameter or set of parameters might indicate a problem, condition or status of a water body or use attainment. Often parameters are “pollutants” in a regulatory or policy environment. For regulatory purposes parameters are often lumped into “characteristic groups”, where members have two or more similar characteristics, such as metals, nutrients, pharmaceuticals, etc. 
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls, are a toxic mixture of industrial chemicals which, although banned since the 1970s, are long-lasting in fish tissue and in bottom-sediments of rivers and lakes. PCBs in fish that are eaten by humans and wildlife can build up and may have cancer-causing and other health effects. PCB contamination has caused many fishing bans and warnings. 
  • Pesticides, such as herbicides and insecticides – include a variety of chemicals used to manage unwanted pests or weeds. In water, pesticides can affect the health of aquatic insects, fish, plants, and animals exposed through feeding or contact.
  • In excessive amounts can cause aquatic plants and microbes to grow too fast, choking waterways, causing potentially harmful algae blooms, and creating low oxygen conditions that can harm fish and other aquatic life
  • Pollution emanating from a discrete source such as a pipe, ditch, channel, container, animal feeding operation, etc.
  • Take many forms often as a result of human behavior.  The Environmental Protection Agency identifies pollutants across 32 categories such as algae, mercury, pathogens, pesticides, trash, metals, nutrients and more.   Some parameters are necessary for life and become a pollutant in excess to a threshold such as zinc, of which plants, animals and humans have different needs and tolerances. 
  • A common use of data, often lumped with regulation, that affects the management, condition, protection and restoration of our waterways.  Policy can be formal or informal and at any level of government.  Data used for policy can fulfill any monitoring purpose, condition or trend, impact, effectiveness or use assessment. 
  • The process to preserve a water body’s condition or status, the use of a water or equivalent concept. The Environmental Protection Agency and many states have protection funding, programs and approval processes, such as antidegradation.  
  • Radiation can enter waterways through eroding or dissolving underground deposits of radioactive metals such as uranium, from the air due to accidental or intentional release, in seepage from improper disposal sites, in mining runoff or dumped mine-tailings, or from other industrial activities. Concentrated radioactive materials in waterways can be a health concern.
  • A common use of data, often lumped with policy, see policy.
  • A common data use for a monitoring program. Research can be applied or theoretical and data quality objectives will vary depending upon the research question.  Data used for research can fulfill any monitoring purpose, condition or trend, impact, effectiveness or use assessment.
  • The process to return a water body to a previous condition or status, returning a use of a water or equivalent concept. The Environmental Protection Agency and many states have restoration funding, programs and approval processes, such as the total maximum daily loads or Superfund for hazardous waste sites. 
  • The task of transforming data into a ranking or scoring system, simple or complex, that provides information for a reader on the condition or health of a water often in relationship to a specific use such as swimming or drinking.
  • What happens as a product of implementing a study design and monitoring program. Results  are lumped with desired outcomes and impacts.  They can be a mix of tangible and intangible, short and long term goals. Examples include a closed beach, dam deconstruction, restored waters or uses, policy change, management change, etc. Each program should identify and measure desired results.
  • Salts are minerals that dissolve in water; they can be toxic to freshwater plants and animals and make water unusable for drinking, irrigation, and livestock. Water withdrawals, road de-icing, human and industrial wastewater, fertilizer applications, mining and oil or gas drilling, and repeated use of irrigation water contribute to high levels of salts. 
  • Excess Sediment is a problem when rain washes soil into waterways from fields, construction sites, yards, logging areas, city streets,  and other disturbed areas. Sediment can make water murky, hurt the health and habitats of fish and other aquatic animals, interfere with uses like fishing and swimming, and carry other pollutants sometimes including toxic chemicals. 
  • An on-site system designed to treat and dispose of domestic sewage.
  • In the context of monitoring data is the concept of using data (numbers, illustrations, graphics, images, videos, etc.) perhaps traditionally designed for water managers for another purpose, to create community, a movement, a fundraiser, increase membership or awareness for example. Using data in a social media context for social purposes.
  • Standard Operating Procedures, which are a set of protocols, methods, procedures or a process that is prescribed and consistent for every employment. This provides consistent, comparable, reliable, reproducible, accurate and precise results appropriate for the desired data quality. This assists quality assurance and credibility for monitoring programs.  SOP’s are documented, often standard among the community and applied not only to sample preparation, collection, analyses but also to data and volunteer management. 
  • US Environmental Protection Agency’s open access data repository “STO” for storage and “RET” for retrieval, available via the National Water Quality Portal (NWP)
  • Often associated with ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute that developed one of the first geographic information systems)  generated term, which they define as the ability to combine authoritative maps with narrative text, images and multimedia content, making it easy to harness the power of maps and geography to tell your story.  The term is not owned by ESRI and is the process of turning data into a story, storytelling, story journalism using technology.  The task of presenting data, analyses, conclusions and information in a story-like format, combination of text, visualizations that informs the viewer, gives them context and meaning in a way that is more robust than just presenting numbers in tables or graphs for example.  Products are information products for targeted users to consume data and in theory increase awareness, knowledge, change behaviors and other decisions to protect and restore our waters. 
  • The primary source contributing to the water system, such as groundwater, surface water and ground water under the influence of surface water
  • Rain or snowmelt that runs-off of industrial and construction sites, streets, roads, parking lots and other impervious surfaces, and which carries pollutants from these areas into water bodies. 
  • A physical, chemical or biological factor that may contribute to pollution or cause stress to some element, function to a natural process. 
  • Synonymous with monitoring plan or design, and is the act of identifying why data is being collected for whom, monitoring purpose and questions, data use, information and quality needed to produce desired results, outcomes and impacts monitoring will produce. These answers design what will be collected, when, where and how, analyses and interpretation and information to be generated, reported,  delivered, published, shared,  management of data and information and program evaluation.  This plan may be formal or informal, simple or rigorous, documented or not or cheap or expensive, these are all a function of desired results and outcomes.  WDC uses the term Study Design for this act.  
  • All water that naturally is open to the atmosphere, such as rivers, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, streams, brooks and estuaries.
  • The task and processes of reviewing a monitoring program and study design to assess if the effort answered monitoring questions, data objectives and completion or progress toward desired results, outcomes and impacts. See Formative Evaluation to ensure your program has both evaluation processes.
  • Taste, color, and odor problems may indicate that pollutants are present; however, these problems are of concern mainly because they affect uses of waterways, such as swimming, drinking water supply, or aesthetic enjoyment.
  • Many fish and other aquatic animals are sensitive to changes in water temperature and require a certain temperature range to survive. If water temperature goes outside that range for too long, they can become sick or die.
  • Total Maximum Daily Load,  is a restoration strategy of the Federal Clean Water Act, Section 303d, that identifies waters that are impaired from a pollutant, collaborating to identify source and extent and develop a plan to restore the water to desired condition or status.  That plan involves quantifying a “total daily maximum load” allowed for involved point and non-point sources to achieve restored conditions.  
  • Trash consists of litter, debris, and other types of discarded solid waste. Trash can be contaminated with toxins or bacteria, and it harms fish and wildlife that eat it or become entangled in it. In areas where people swim or wade, trash can present a human health and/or safety threat.  
  • A term used to describe a consistent or maybe predictable pattern.  A data objective for a monitoring program might be to detect trends in a condition, status or use to see if it is changing in one direction or another. Data for trend analysis can be rigorous, time consuming and statistically significant or can be an anecdotal observation like “I have lived here for 30 years and this condition has degraded every year.
  • Include many, man-made substances such as solvents, pesticides, dioxins, PCBs, and furans. They can enter waterways through improper pesticide application and disposal, runoff, spills, auto exhaust, and burning of chemical wastes. These chemicals can be toxic to animals and people.
  • A wide range of pollutants including metals, fire retardants, cyanide, and perchlorate (used in rocket fuel) that are poisonous to aquatic life and people. Industrial or wastewater discharges, mining, landfills, and air deposition of car exhaust and energy production can contribute to high levels of toxic inorganic chemicals in waterways.
  • Harmful, man-made chemicals that contain carbon. They can build-up in animal and fish tissue, lake and river sediments, and enter sources of drinking water posing potential long-term health risks. 
  • Waters for which data or information does not exist to determine the condition, status, environment, situation or equivalent. That determination can be formal or informal.
  • A description or characterization of how a particular water body is valued or used. Uses can be formal, like regulatory or informal, a local criteria.  Examples of uses include, drinking water, agriculture, aquatic life, recreation, shellfish, industrial or berry picking.  A use could be identified as attained or impaired. Designated Uses are water uses or goals for those waters  (e.g. swimming, fishing, boating) identified in the Federal Clean Water Act water quality standards to be achieved and maintained under the Clean Water Act. 
  • Synonymous with Citizen Science, Community Science and other names for identifying the act of citizens engaged in science, independent of the degree of their participation or their goals, monitoring purpose, data uses or desired outcomes.  The WDC uses Community Science as the term to represent this act.
  •  Your definition of the waters you work with, can one or many, can be multiple types (lake, river, ocean, estuary, wetland, ground water), can be entire body, reach or segment as examples.  
  • Water Reporter is a social network optimized to support watershed initiatives.  The platform’s growing community leverages a variety of web-based and mobile services to:

    1. Identify, report, and remediate threats to local water quality
    2. Collect, manage, and share chemical and bacteria water quality monitoring data.
    3. Grow and communicate with volunteer bases.
    4. Launch data collection campaigns and crowdsourcing initiatives focused on common water quality management issues

    For more information visit:  https://www.waterreporter.org/

  • Thresholds, benchmarks or tolerance levels that protect those using the water, which may include plants and animals as well as humans, but may not.  These can be rigorous and formal requiring lots of data or informal, what is known by the locals as safe or unsafe.  
  • An area of land that drains or “sheds” water into a specific waterbody. Every body of water has a watershed. Watersheds drain rainfall and snowmelt into streams and rivers. These smaller bodies of water flow into larger ones, including lakes, bays, and oceans.
  • The task, activity or role of managing the water, land, activities within a watershed.  That can include quality and quantity of water, policies, regulations and enforcement, land-use management as examples.
  • Web technology that has been designed for human-to-machine communication is utilized for machine-to-machine communication, specifically in order to transfer machine-readable data formats such as XML and JSON.
  • An area that is inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater and supports vegetation and aquatic life
  • National Water Quality Portal, open access data repository that contains STORET, NWIS, NOAA, states, tribes and others water quality data including chemistry, water quantity, biological and physical habitat data on rivers, lakes, reservoirs, oceans, estuaries, groundwater and wetlands. This is the mechanism for anyone, including the public, to retrieve water monitoring data from EPA.
  • Water Quality Exchange is the mechanism for data partners to submit water monitoring data to EPA.
  • Wastewater Treatment Plant