Water Quality Training

Once a study design (new programs) or methods review (existing programs) is completed, monitoring groups designated to collect Tier 1 and Tier 2 data need to attend a water quality training before data can be uploaded to the Chesapeake Data Explorer. Water quality monitoring trainings ensure that all chemical monitoring data uploaded to the Chesapeake Data Explorer are collected in accordance with the CMC quality assurance project plans and standard operating procedures.

We offer three general types of training for certified monitors, certified trainers, or certified coordinators. The type of training offered to each group depends on a monitoring groups specific needs, based on methods and equipment used, volunteer engagement process and program coordination. Specific details of how and when trainings occur for individual monitoring groups should be documented in their approved program QAPP, methods manual, or CMC program Manual.

Once water quality monitoring trainings are completed, the group becomes a CMC member and is able to upload data to the Chesapeake Data Explorer. If a group is designated as Tier 1 or Tier 2 based on their methods review, but does not attend a training workshop all data will be labelled as provisional Tier 1 or provisional Tier 2.

Certified Monitors

A certified monitor is a any person – volunteer, paid-staff, intern, etc – that collects water quality data through a monitoring program that is a member of the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative. All monitors are required to attend a water quality monitoring workshop provided by a CMC service provider or certified trainer, follow their approved sampling plan, and submit data to the Chesapeake Data Explorer or their program coordinator. Additionally, monitors collecting Tier 2 data must become certified following the methods below.

All monitors that have passed in the initial certification, are collecting Tier 2 data, and wish to maintain their certification must attend a re-certification workshop annually for the first two years of monitoring, and biennially after that.

Water Quality Monitoring Workshops

Water Quality Monitoring Workshops are tailored to each group and based on their particular equipment and monitoring methods, but generally include:

  • Goals and objectives of the CMC and the monitoring project
  • Science of water quality issues in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
  • Water quality impacts and the significance of the indicators to be measured
  • Safety when monitoring
  • Review monitoring protocols through hands-on training exercises:
    • Clean, calibrate, use and store monitoring equipment
    • Collect, store and transport water samples for water quality analysis
    • Analyze water samples
    • Fill out and complete field data sheets accurately
    • Follow quality assurance and quality control procedures
  • Enter monitoring results into the Chesapeake Data Explorer (if applicable)

All monitors wishing to collect Tier 2 data must additional become certified by either:

  • Passing a certification test with an 80% or greater within 90 days of training, or
  • Submitting a quality assurance duplicate sample and have the results fall within a threshold of acceptance based on the precision for the methodology.

Re-certification Workshops

Re-certification workshops can be set up in a variety of ways, during the workshop monitors are checked to make sure that:

  • They remain proficient in methodology and understanding of basic water quality parameters;
  • Their equipment is operational and properly calibrated/verified; and,
  • They have an adequate supply of viable chemicals, procedures, equipment verification/check, and updated information about monitoring. Replacement equipment, datasheets, information, and chemicals are given if needed.

Certified Trainers

A Certified Trainer is any person who is certified to lead a Water Quality Monitoring Workshop and certification process for monitors collecting Tier II data. Certified trainers can be volunteers or paid staff at an organization and must attend a Train-the-Trainer workshop held by a CMC Service Provider. We provide train-the-trainer workshops on an as needed basis for coordinators who would like to become a certified trainer for their monitoring group. These workshops are tailored to each monitoring groups specific needs based on equipment used and quality assurance protocols. Once certified, trainers are required to meet with a CMC service provider on an annual basis to review their program and troubleshoot issues.

To become certified, trainers are required to attend a Train-the-Trainer workshop and demonstrate:

  • A thorough understanding of water quality monitoring methods and QA/QC procedures implemented by this project.
  • The ability to explain water quality parameters, water quality science, and the importance of assessing stream health in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
  • The ability to logistically plan and effectively train workshop participants to collect data according to their program procedures.

Trainers may be asked to perform a “mock” training or to undergo an observation by a Project Team member in person or by video in order to qualify. Once a trainee qualifies by these means, they become a Certified Trainer and may train and re-certify volunteer monitors under their program.

Certified Coordinators

A certified coordinator is any person who is certified to perform all QA and data management protocols (including data upload and publishing on the Chesapeake Data Explorer) for a monitoring program collecting Tier II data. Certified coordinators can be the program coordinator/certified trainer, paid staff or a highly engaged volunteer. The CMC service provider will provide one-on-one workshops on an as-needed basis for those interested and qualified to become a certified coordinator for their monitoring program.

In order to become a certified coordinator, the designated person must demonstrate:

  • A thorough understanding of water quality monitoring methods and QA/QC procedures written in the project QAPP or CMC Program Manual;
  • A proficiency in troubleshooting issues with equipment or any other field supplies;
  • A proficiency in data management using Microsoft Excel or some other electronic data mechanism;
  • Annual recertification or passing of prescribed QC practices;
  • A proficiency in data upload to the Chesapeake Data Explorer.

This can be achieved through prior knowledge and experience (as deemed appropriate by the CMC service provider) or by being a Certified Monitor/Trainer for at least one year. If a monitoring group does not have a Certified Coordinator either the CMC service provider acts as the Coordinator for that group, or the data is considered Tier I or provisional.