Community Science

Do you need support for your community water monitoring efforts? A collaborative called The NC Aquatic Data Hub formed to encourage and support community water monitoring to better understand the condition of North Carolina’s waters and to maintain and improve them. NCADH provides resources for new groups and existing organizations to contribute to and access a statewide network of aquatic data.

The partnership created a tiered system and a methods manual to guide community water monitoring methods. Tier level of data reflects both the resolution and accuracy of equipment used and the Quality Assurance Project Plan. For example, an expensive and highly accurate meter used without an accepted QAPP would qualify as Tier 1 data.

Method TierData UsesQA/QC Requirement
Tier 1Education, baseline data, red flagsQAPP not required
Tier 2Identify waters for follow up monitoringQAPP approved by EPA or DEQ required
Tier 3State AssessmentData collection follows NCDEQ protocols to list and de-list water bodies
Data Tiers in the NCADH Methods Manual reflect NCDEQ requirements for data use

The Methods Manual includes monitoring methods for three parameters: habitat assessment, benthic macroinvertebrates, and chemical/ physical. The current version is helpful for monitoring mountain, piedmont, and coastal plain streams, though does not include methods for tidal creeks. You can download the manual below.

NCADH Methods Manual

NC Stream Watch

If you are interested in exploring the health your stream, or helping others learn about it, consider joining NC Stream Watch. Here you can find an app for easily collecting and instantly sharing your Tier 1 data state-wide, and view other groups’ data on the Stream Watch dashboard.

NC Stream Watch

NC Aquatic Data Hub Overview

The North Carolina Aquatic Data Hub meets regularly to share information and collaborate on advancing state-wide support tools for community monitoring. The NCADH was made possible by a $160,000 two-year grant awarded by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation to support a statewide citizen science water quality monitoring project to New River Conservancy on behalf of multiple non-profits and agencies across the state. Partners of this initiative include Carolina Wetlands Association, Environmental Quality Institute, Haw River Assembly, Mountain True, NC Division of Water Resources, River Network, NC Museum of Natural Sciences, NC Sea Grant, NC Watershed Stewardship Network, River Guardian Foundation, NC Natural Heritage Program, and Water Resources Research Institute.

The NCADH provided a series of water monitoring workshops across NC in 2017-2018, created the Methods Manual, and is completing a downloadable database that can easily upload data to EPA and NC DEQ databases. This database will be posted here for download when it is available.

Monitoring programs are effective tools towards reaching conservation action. Collaborating statewide on monitoring efforts can help improve or protect NC waters, especially in an era of decreased government funding for monitoring.