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Nonpoint Source Water Pollution

Nonpoint Source > Watershed Assessment > Impaired Waters - Integrated Report > External Data and Listings > Framework Requirements for Level 1 Data Framework Requirements for Level 1 Data

Potential Use of Your Data by OWQ

Level 1 data may be used either directly or indirectly by OWQ for the following:

  • Education and raising awareness of water quality issues;
  • Supplementary information for total maximum daily load (TMDL) development;
  • Supplementary information for development of Indiana’s integrated water monitoring and assessment report; and,
  • Screening data to help OWQ prioritize its monitoring activities.

The use of Level 1 data as supplementary information for the development of a TMDL or the state’s integrated report are examples of how OWQ might use your data directly. In these cases, your results will used to compare to the conclusions drawn from any Level 3 data available for a given watershed. If no Level 2 or Level 3 data are available for the watershed to which your data apply, OWQ may use your results to help prioritize future OWQ monitoring activities.

OWQ does not use Level 1 data directly for educational purposes. However, some external organizations use NPS program grant funds to conduct monitoring for the purposes of educating their stakeholders about water quality issues in their watershed. Few Level 1 uses involve making decisions. Therefore, data collected for these purposes do not require a high level of scientific rigor.

Data Quality Documentation and OWQ Review

Table 2: Generalized acceptance criteria for Level 1 data.
Data Quality Indicator Generalized Acceptance Criteria for Level 1 Data
Age of data Any data may be considered for this level. Recent data may be considered more reliable for any purpose other than education.
Sampling duration and frequency Sampling may be a one-time event or occur at any given frequency and duration.
Minimum number of samples required for data to be considered representative of actual conditions No minimum number of samples or sampling design (targeted, random, etc.) is required.
Geographic scale Samples may be collected at any geographic scale.
Methods required No specific methods are required.
Submission requirements (e.g. formatting, required components, etc.) Data for this level may be submitted in hard copy or electronic format, such as spreadsheets or database files. For electronic submissions, NPS-AIMS format is preferred. Templates are provided to assist with electronic submission in NPS-AIMS format. Entry into the AIMS database of data submitted in other electronic formats may be delayed if significant effort is required to reformat the data. Data submitted in hard copy will be reviewed and entered into the AIMS database as time allows.
Documentation of data quality (metadata for the data set) A quality assurance project plan (QAPP) is not required unless data collection is funded with federal grant money (e.g. 319, 205(j), etc.); If required, the QAPP must meet requirements established by IDEM's NPS program. If no QAPP is required, documentation must meet minimum metadata requirements.

Sampling and Analytical Methods

No specific sampling and analytical methods are required for Level 1 data. However, organizations are highly encouraged to use Hoosier Riverwatch or Indiana Clean Lakes program methods if they are in the process of planning their monitoring activities.

Both the Hoosier Riverwatch and Indiana Clean Lakes programs have a quality assurance project plan (QAPP) that provides standardized sampling and analytical methods for each program and helps to ensure the data their participants collect is of known quality. Using these methods will help your data become comparable to that collected by the many other individuals and organizations throughout Indiana participating in these programs.

Through OWQ’s partnership with Hoosier Riverwatch and the Indiana Clean Lakes program, participants in either program can be confident that their data will be automatically considered by OWQ for Level 1 uses with no additional effort on their part.

Site Location Considerations

Data collected on any surface water in Indiana are potentially useful for Level 1 processes regardless of the scope of the study or the geographic scale over which the data was collected. The type of monitoring conducted for Level 1 may consist of a single sampling site or several. For example, a teacher may choose to monitor a waterbody near the school, or individuals might wish to monitor waterbodies on or near their properties. In contrast, a watershed coordinator interested in educating stakeholders may choose a variety of sites to monitor, incorporating waterbodies potentially affected by different land uses in the watershed. All of this data may be considered Level 1 uses by OWQ, provided they can be associated with a specific waterbody or watershed.

Frequency and Timing of Monitoring Activities

Level 1 uses do not have specific requirements regarding when samples should be collected. However, in order to review your results within context, it is important that the timing and frequency of your sampling activities is provided. This information can be included in the documentation you submit to OWQ with your data set or in the reports you provide through the Hoosier Riverwatch and/or the Indiana Clean Lakes program.

Minimum Data Requirements

There are no minimum data requirements for Level 1 data. Any amount of data collected may be considered Level 1 uses by OWQ.

Quality Control Procedures

Monitoring conducted for Level 1 does not require complex quality control (QC) procedures since its primary purpose is education or to provide supplementary information. Level 1 data often assists the agency in gaining a fuller understanding of water quality issues identified through other data collection activities. However, the concept of data quality is an important aspect of any type of scientific monitoring. If your monitoring activities are intended primarily for the purposes of education, incorporating some basic quality controls will provide a rich educational experience for your participants.

Appendix A includes a basic discussion of quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) as it relates to water quality monitoring, as well as some definitions of common terms. In addition, the Hoosier Riverwatch program manual includes a number of quality controls appropriate to any Level 1 monitoring, whether on streams or lakes. Although a QAPP is not required for Level 1 data, U.S. EPA’s The Volunteer Monitor’s Guide to Quality Assurance Project Plans provides a good discussion of some basic QA/QC concepts that may be useful.

Data Quality Requirements

Organizations submitting their results or samples to Hoosier Riverwatch or the Indiana Clean Lakes program directly do not need to provide any additional documentation. The QAPP for these programs provides all of the information needed for Level 1 review. For organizations submitting their data to OWQ directly through the framework process, a written study plan or QAPP is generally not necessary, but recommended if you want your data to be considered for TMDL development or CWA reporting purposes. Level 1 data submitted to OWQ for these purposes will be considered supplementary data only. These data cannot be used for TMDL modeling, 305(b) assessments or 303(d) listing decisions.

A QAPP is required for all organizations submitting data collected through a NPS program grant. The informational requirements of the QAPP vary based on the framework level at which your project’s monitoring activities have been approved. If your project is monitoring for educational purposes only, Level 1 requirements will apply. In some cases, minimal additional documentation will be required when using Hoosier Riverwatch methods.

OWQ does not impose stringent acceptance criteria on data submitted for Level 1 uses. Since the primary use of Level 1 data is for education or to provide supplementary information for OWQ programs, QA/QC is not required, although it is encouraged.

Data Reporting Requirements

Data submitted by NPS program grant projects must be submitted electronically in NPS-AIMS format. All other organizations may submit their data in any spreadsheet, database file or in hardcopy. Electronic formats are preferred because they facilitate review of the data set. Templates are provided to assist with electronic submission in NPS-AIMS format. Entry into the AIMS database of data submitted in other electronic formats may be delayed if significant effort is required to reformat the data.

Note that for laboratory data sets, it is helpful if definitions for any data qualifiers and flags associated with your data are included in the documentation you provide.

Relevant Manuals and Resources