Volunteer Stream Monitoring

What is it?

The state of Ohio determined that in order to effectively restore, protect, and enhance water quality in Ohio, managing agencies should collect as much scientific data and knowledge possible about waterway conditions throughout the state. Volunteer stream monitoring programs, like the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Ohio Stream Quality Monitoring (SQM) Project , allow local volunteers, schools, watershed groups, organizations, or agencies to help monitor stream health through collecting and analyzing data. Volunteers use biological monitoring methods to collect information and fill out assessment forms that they eventually submit to contribute to a cumulative index of streams in the area.


Monitoring water quality is an essential aspect of restoring, improving, and protecting stream health. In addition to contributing to the knowledge bank that decision-makers might rely on to manage their streams, volunteering in stream monitoring is a great educational opportunity and an easy way to get involved in the community. Programs are completely voluntary, do not require a huge time commitment, and other than some training, most have minimal Requirements for Participation.


In addition to the requirements to participate, like any other project, the effectiveness of volunteer monitoring programs requires volunteers to be dedicated and willing to commit time to monitoring, analyzing, and recording their findings.

Next Steps

Visit the Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water - Credible Data Home to find out more about water quality monitoring, data collection, and how to get involved. The US EPA Volunteer Monitoring site provides a director of volunteer monitoring programs in your area, how to get started in monitoring programs, volunteer methods manuals, and additional links and resources. The National Water Resource Project - Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring also provides support for volunteers, guides for new and growing programs, and additional resources about monitoring programs and projects around the U.S.


Identify if the critters living in your stream are pollutant-tolerant or sensitive to pollution. The presence of pollution sensitive organisms suggest a stream with a high quality habitat.