A key component of the Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP) is the development, implementation, and maintenance of the monitoring infrastructure (e.g., indicators, methods, quality assurance/quality control [QA/QC], and data management) necessary to support a robust monitoring program while also fostering data comparability and collaboration with monitoring partners. This page provides access to those tools.
Quality assurance (QA) is an integrated system of management activities (i.e., planning, implementation, assessment, reporting, and quality improvement) that focuses on providing confidence in the data or product by ensuring that it is of the type and quality needed and expected by the client.
The key components of the SWAMP QA program are: the Quality Assurance Program Plan (QAPrP), QA Project Plans (QAPPs), and other QA Resources (including QA training, a Help Desk and the SWAMP QA team).
SWAMP Quality Assurance Program Plan
- QAPrP describes SWAMP's quality system including elements such as; responsibilities of management and staff; as well as quality control and sample handling guidelines for both laboratory and field activities.
SWAMP-funded projects, and projects required to be consistent with SWAMP, must follow the guidelines of the SWAMP QAPrP.
- SWAMP Quality Assurance Program Plan (entire document)
- NEW! SWAMP Quality Control and Sample Handling Guidelines (clickable links to individual tables) 2013 Revised Tables. Posted - April 8, 2013
Quality Assurance Project Plans
- A QAPP is required for certain large, ongoing, or special projects. To streamline the creation of these documents, SWAMP encourages the use of the following resources:
- SWAMP Advisor - an interactive online tool that compiles user input into a SWAMP-comparable QAPP.
- SWAMP QAPP Review Checklist - a tool for assessing each element of a completed SWAMP-comparable QAPP. This checklist is equally useful during QAPP creation.
- Guidance for Quality Assurance Project Plans and EPA Requirements for Quality Assurance Project Plans - Environmental Protection Agency Quality System documents that are the basis for the above QAPP tools.
- The following resources provide additional assistance with SWAMP comparability:
Examples of Quality Assurance Project Plans
- The following quality assurance project plans (QAPPs) were developed by various statewide monitoring and assessment programs. They may be referenced or excerpted in the production of QAPPs for other projects.
- Bioaccumulation Monitoring Program
- Bioassessment Monitoring Program - June 2009
- Stream Pollution Trends (SPoT) Monitoring Program - May 2010
- Assessing Natural Water Quality in Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) - October 2008
Indicators and Water Quality Goals
- Water Quality Indicators - include tools for assessment of chemical, physical and biological conditions and processes.
- Read more about the criteria and considerations for selecting appropriate Water Quality Indicators
- View a List of Potential Indicators and their associated beneficial use
- A Compilation of Water Quality Goals - Numeric water quality thresholds from the literature for over 860 chemical constituents and water quality parameters. The text of the report explains, with examples, how these limits may be used to assess protections of beneficial uses of water resources in the context of California’s quality standards. A summary of relevant statutes, regulations, plans, and policies and a list of references are included.
Methods and Standard Operating Procedures
In order to be SWAMP-comparable, bioassessment sampling (benthic macroinvertebrates and algae) must be conducted according to SWAMP’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) (links provided below). There are no other SWAMP-mandated field methods. Additional resources regarding field methods are provided below for informational purposes.
Methods for Conducting Bioassessments in Freshwater Streams and Rivers
- SWAMP Bioassessment Procedures 2012 - Standard Operating Procedures for Laboratory Processing and Identification of Benthic Macroinvertebrates in California - October 2012
- Collecting Benthic Macroinvertebrate Samples & Associated Physical and Chemical Data for Ambient Bioassessments in California - Standard Operating Procedures Manual - February 2007
- Collecting Stream Algae Samples and Associated Physical Habitat and Chemical Data for Ambient Bioassessments in California - Standard Operating Procedures Manual - June 2010
- SWAMP Stream Habitat Characterization Form - June 2008
- Taxonomic conventions for identifying benthic macroinvertebrates (BMIs) - Southwest Association of Freshwater Invertebrate Taxonomists (SAFIT)
SWAMP Field Methods Course
- The SWAMP Field Methods Course (November 2005) is a narrated video that introduces the concepts used in SWAMP sample collection and field analysis. The course includes the following six modules: Reconnaissance, Water Quality Measurements, Flow Measurements, Water Sampling, Sediment Sampling, and Sample Handling and Shipping. Get more information on how to view this course online or to request a copy of the course on CD.
Standard Operating Procedures for Conducting Field Measurements
- SOP for Conducting Field Measurements and Field Collections of Water and Bed Sediment Samples in the Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program - Marine Pollution Studies Laboratory - Department of Fish and Game (MPSL-DFG) - October 2007
California Rapid Assessment Method for Wetlands (CRAM)
Analysis of Pyrethroid Insecticides in Surface Water & Sediments
- Recent Advances in the Analysis of Pyrethroid Insecticides in Surface Water and Sediments - Department of Fish and Game, Office of Spill Prevention and Response, Fish and Wildlife Water Pollution Control Laboratory - November 2011
Techniques for Preventing the Introduction and Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species
Tools for Assessing the Biological Integrity of Surface Waters
Biological Integrity as used by the SWAMP program refers primarily to the assemblages of benthic macro-invertebrates “observed” at various sampling locations, as compared to the “expected” assemblages found in good quality waters from appropriate reference sites.
Wadeable Streams and Rivers
- Tools based on benthic macroinvertebrates.
For bioassessment field methods, lab methods, quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) methods, and taxonomic conventions, see Bioassessment Methods.
- South & Central Coast Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI)
- A Quantitative Tool for Assessing the Integrity of South & Central California Coastal Streams - Journal article Environmental Management 35(4):493-504 (2005)
Calculating the South & Central Coast IBI - May 2009
- Boundary map for the South Coast IBI (kml file)
- North Coast IBI
- Eastern Sierra IBI
- Development of a Benthic Macroinvertebrate Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) for Stream Assessments in the Eastern Sierra Nevada of California Technical report (March 2009)
- Calculating the Eastern Sierra IBI - (MS-Excel spreadsheet calculator)
- Central Valley IBI
- South & Central Coast Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI)
- Tools based on freshwater algae
- Incorporating Bioassessment Using Freshwater Algae into California’s Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (“Algae Plan”) - May 2008
- Algae as Bioindicators - A New Tool for Water Quality Assessment (slide presentation) - September 2009 (also available: Webinar)
- Preliminary Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) for Periphyton in the Eastern Sierra (draft technical report) - August 2008
- California Estuarine Nutrient Numeric Endpoints (NNE) Project
- A Novel Quantification Method for Stream - Inhabiting, Non-diatom Benthic Algae, and its Application in Bioassessment - Hydrobiologia 2012
- For other tools, see the State Water Board’s webpages for biological objectives, the Perennial Streams Assessment, and “My Water Quality.”
Bays and Estuaries
All Water Body Types
Tools for Citizen Monitors
The SWAMP’s Clean Water Team (CWT) is the citizen monitoring program of the State Water Resources Control Board. Its mission is to build and support the State’s Watersheds Stewardship through involvement in citizen monitoring in order to reduce and prevent water pollution. The Clean Water Team’s Citizen Monitoring Coordinator provides technical assistance, training, data management consultation, and outreach and education to citizen monitoring organizations. Get more information concerning the Clean Water Team.
Clean Water Team Guidance Compendium for Watershed Monitoring and Assessment
The purpose of this Compendium is to enhance the user’s knowledge and ability to make decisions regarding measurements of water quality in various water body types. It should be useful to field operators conducting water quality monitoring, technical advisors and trainers of citizen monitoring groups, agency staff, or any other person interested in water quality issues.
Clean Water Team’s Tool Box for Citizen Monitoring Programs
In addition to the Clean Water Team's Guidance Compendium for Watershed Monitoring and Assessment, the Tool Box has template files and documents that will help citizen monitors manage and organize their water quality monitoring data.
- Clean Water Team Tool Box
- California Aquatic Bioassessment Workgroup (2003–2012), including Citizen Monitoring Presentations
The SWAMP Database
A standardized data management, evaluation and reporting system, which serves as the mechanism for data sharing among project participants. The database was designed to ensure both the comparability and quality of the data, so that SWAMP data can be used effectively in assessing the quality of the State’s waters. Specific documentation and additional information about the SWAMP Database can be found at the Marine Pollution Studies Laboratory at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories Website. Compliance with the SWAMP Data Management Plan is required in order to be SWAMP-comparable.
The California Environmental Data Exchange Network (CEDEN)
A distributed data system, comprised of a number of Regional Data Centers, designed to facilitate integration and sharing of data collected by many different participants. CEDEN’s mission is to simplify and improve access to California’s water resource monitoring data by providing services that integrate, standardize, and display data from a diverse array of monitoring and data management efforts. CEDEN serves as the venue through which SWAMP data are made available to the public.