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University of Wyoming


Common Mistakes

The most common mistakes in developing a monitoring program include:
  • Failure to carefully consider the project objectives. Too often, it is assumed that an existing monitoring program or one designed for another purpose or location will meet the needs for a specific project. If the monitoring was not planned with the project objectives in mind, the project may reach completion with no good way to demonstrate its impact.

  • Failure to understand the dynamics and transport processes of the pollutant of concern in a particular watershed. Different pollutants behave very differently under different conditions. The local geography and land uses within a given watershed will determine pollutant transport and transformations in a given setting. Consideration of these details before a project begins will ultimately save money and time by avoiding common mistakes such as inappropriate site selection, timing of sample collection, number of samples, parameter selection, or choice of water quality measurements.

  • Failure to consider alternate methods for demonstrating impact. Traditional monitoring programs often measure only the pollutant of concern and/or loading. Monitoring must also include variables that will help interpret the results such as measuring discharge whenever mass loads must be calculated. Alternate methods of demonstrating impact should be considered as well. These approaches may include monitoring a system’s response to a BMP or measuring variables that are closely correlated to the pollutant of concern. Increasingly, models of varying complexity are also used to assess water quality issues and demonstrate the impacts of BMPs. For a model to be applicable to a specific site or project, typically some environmental data must be assembled or collected. Therefore, if models are to be used, the data needed for these models must also be carefully considered before the project begins.