Tier 1 and 2 Non-Tidal Monitoring

The Tier 1 and Tier 2 non-tidal water quality monitoring project consists of monitoring groups collecting discrete surface samples using in-situ sensors or probes, monitoring kits, or lab grab samples that utilize reliable QA procedures and standardized protocols in non-tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Most programs use a combination of techniques to analyze a suite of parameters based on resources available. All equipment, technologies and sampling methods selected for this project are used to monitor baseline surface water conditions following the EPA volunteer monitoring methods for streams. Individual groups may have more specific methods to meet specific objectives, like targeting restorations projects, tracking bacteria levels for human health, etc.

Samples are collected at the surface of a waterway, either at 0.3m, 0.5m or 1.0m below the surface depending on equipment capabilities and depth of the stream. Samples are typically collected by wading into a stream, from a bridge or overpass, or from a pier. Monitors can use a bucket or sampling pole to facilitate sample collection if needed.


The non-tidal water quality monitoring projects sampling the following parameters. Each monitoring group selects parameters, equipment and analytical methods used for their program based on their individual monitoring needs and desired data use goals.

  • Alkalinity (field)
  • Ammonia-nitrogen (lab)
  • Bacteria (e.coli) (field or lab)
  • Conductivity (field)
  • Dissolved Oxygen (field)
  • Nitrate-nitrogen (field or lab)
  • Nitrite-nitrogen (field or lab)
  • Orthophosphate (field or lab)
  • pH (field)
  • Total Dissolved Solids (field)
  • Total Suspended Solids (lab)
  • Total Nitrogen (lab)
  • Total Phosphorus (lab)
  • Water Clarity (field)
  • Water Temperature (field)

The full list of approved parameters, sampling procedures, and equipment along with the highest achievable tier and the requirements to meet that tier designation for field data are listed in the CMC Non-Tidal QAPP.

Monitoring Timelines

Each monitoring group participating has their own project timeline tailored to their specific monitoring program and data needs. Typical sampling frequencies include, but are not limited to:

  • Once monthly water quality sampling – typically occurs year-round when possible, but can be done at a minimum from March to November.
  • Biweekly water quality sampling – typically occurs year-round when possible, but can be done at a minimum from March to November.
  • Weekly water quality sampling – typically occurs during the summer months, May through September/October.
  • Combination of timeframes – some monitoring programs perform weekly sample collection in the summer and monthly sample collection the rest of the year.

Service Providers

The Alliance works with non-tidal monitoring groups in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia and Delaware. ALLARM works with non-tidal monitoring groups in Pennsylvania and New York. UMCES works with any monitoring groups to provide data interpretation and visualization workshops.

The Service Providers can provide the following trainings based on the monitoring groups individual needs:

  • Study Design Workshop – For groups creating a new monitoring program it is essential to think through the scientific process and the steps necessary to create a program where the data collected match the monitoring objects.
  • Methods Review – For groups with existing and active monitoring programs, the CMC service providers will review the current methods manuals and quality assurance procedures in order to designate a tier and provide feedback based on the CMC approved quality assurance procedures.
  • Water Quality Monitoring Training – Based on the structure of each monitoring program, the CMC service providers will conduct at least one of the following trainings: volunteer or monitor trainings, Certified Trainer, or Certified Coordinator trainings.
  • Data Explorer Training – Once a group has started collecting data, the CMC service provider will conduct a training to upload data to the Chesapeake Data Explorer either through the online form or bulk upload process.
  • Data Interpretation – After a group has collected at least 1 year’s worth of data the CMC service providers offer a variety of data interpretation and synthesis support based on the communication and data use goals of each monitoring group.

If you are interested in starting a non-tidal monitoring program or want your existing non-tidal monitoring program to be integrated into the CMC, fill out this Application for Assistance to connect with your local Service Provider.