EPA is working with states, tribes, river basin commissions, its regional offices and other entities to establish Regional Monitoring Networks (RMNs) for freshwater wadeable streams. The objectives of the RMNs are to collect long-term biological, thermal, hydrologic, physical habitat and water chemistry data to document baseline conditions across sites and detect long-term changes. Consistent methods are being used to increase the comparability of data, minimize biases and variability, and ensure that the data meet data quality objectives. Continuous sensors are being employed when possible. RMN surveys build on existing state and tribal bioassessment efforts with annual sampling of a limited number of sites that can be pooled at a regional level. Pooling data enables more robust regional analyses and improves the ability to detect trends over shorter time periods. The collaborations across states, tribes and other entities resulted in the development of RMNs, some of which have collected data since 2012.
“As an interstate agency, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission certainly recognizes the value of the regional partnership EPA has assembled to address the need for collecting the data necessary for detecting changes to water quality and aquatic life communities over time, especially as it relates to any regional trends that may result from climate change effects. The establishment of an effective regional network is a bigger task than any single agency can undertake given the resources involved, and EPA’s staff provided the needed leadership to establish and guide the partnership, as well as the scientific expertise on the study methods for characterizing any future changing conditions,” said Susquehanna River Basin Commission Executive Director Andrew Dehoff.
RMN data can be used for many purposes, over short and long-term timeframes. These applications include informing water quality and biological criteria development and protection planning priorities, refining lists of biological, thermal and hydrologic indicators, and detecting trends in commonly-used water quality and biological indicators. The RMN data are also important for detecting climate change effects in the context of biomonitoring. There are a number of climate change projections that are relevant to aquatic life condition, including increasing temperatures and changing frequency and magnitude of extreme precipitation events and frequency of summer low flow events. Managers can use the monitoring data to help inform adaptive management.
Partners in the RMN effort include: Alabama DEM; Connecticut DEEP; Delaware DNREC; Georgia DNR; Kentucky DEP; Maine DEP; Maryland DNR; Massachusetts DEP & DFG; New Hampshire DES; New Jersey DEP; New York DEC; North Carolina DENR; Pennsylvania DEP; Rhode Island DEM; South Carolina DHEC; Tennessee DEC; Vermont DEC; Virginia DEQ & DGIF; West Virginia DEP; Red Lake Nation DNR (tribal); Susquehanna River Basin Commission; Tennessee Valley Authority; USFS; USGS; and EPA Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7