Study Design Workshops

Create a Monitoring Plan

Prior to developing a 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 objectives.

The choices you make about your monitoring program will be documented in a written monitoring plan.

Preparing a monitoring plan is the most important step in organizing your monitoring efforts because:

  • It helps you to focus on what you are trying to achieve with your monitoring program,
  • It allows you to learn all of the components of stream monitoring before “getting your feet wet”,
  • It clearly documents your sampling and analysis methods along with your quality assurance procedures,
  • It helps you to select the most appropriate monitoring strategies to address the issues that are important to you, your group, and your community, and
  • It minimizes the impact of changing members on the continuity of your monitoring activities.

It is recommended that organizations create a sub-committee of about 4-6 individuals to go through the study design process.

The individuals on the sub-committee will not be responsible for the entire program, but will be, for the direction monitoring will take. Members can include board members or a member of the organizational leadership, members concerned about water quality, and historian or members familiar with the watershed.

Once you begin monitoring, you should revisit your monitoring plan annually to determine if the data you are collecting are answering the initial questions that prompted monitoring and to determine if your methods are still appropriate.