Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP)
Questions or Comments?
- Kelly Huck
Phone: (530) 542-5458.
SWAMP is a statewide monitoring effort designed to assess the conditions of surface waters throughout the State of California. The SWAMP program was first established in year 2000 by the State Water Resources Control Board.
For the purposes of SWAMP, “ambient” monitoring refers to any activity in which information about the status of the physical, chemical, and/or biological characteristics of the environment is collected to answer specific questions about the status and trends in water quality and/or beneficial uses of water.
The primary objectives of ambient surface water monitoring at the Lahontan Region are:
- to determine (to the extent to which funding is available) whether ambient water quality at selected sites is in compliance with the chemical and physical water quality objectives contained in the Water Quality Control Plan for the Lahontan Region (Basin Plan) and the “California Toxics Rule.”
- to determine (to the extent to which funding is available) whether water flowing from California into the State of Nevada meets Nevada’s water quality objectives.
- to develop and implement (to the extent to which funding is available) tools to assess the biological integrity of the Region's streams and rivers based on instream benthic macroinvertebrate and algae assemblages.
The SWAMP Program Fact Sheet provides more information on the Goals, Accomplishments, and Performance Targets.
For more information about the statewide SWAMP, see the State Water Board's SWAMP website.
Currently available SWAMP reports, data, protocols, and staff contact information for the Lahontan Region are summarized below.
All reports produced and/or funded (in whole or in part) by the Lahontan Region’s SWAMP program are available below. The reports are organized according to the following categories:
- Region-wide & Watershed Assessment Reports
- Methods and Tools for Stream & River Bioassessment
- Restoration Project Evaluations
- BMP Effectiveness Monitoring
- Sediment Assessment Reports
- Other SWAMP Reports for the Lahontan Region
Region-wide & Watershed Assessment Reports
- Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP) at the Lahontan Region: Summary of Results for Years 2000-2005 by Kim Gorman and others, July 2007
Methods and Tools for Stream & River Bioassessment
- Development of a Benthic Macroinvertebrate Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) for Stream Assessments in the Eastern Sierra Nevada of California – Final Report, by David B. Herbst and Erik L. Silldorff, December 2009
- IBI spreadsheet calculator tool (Excel)
- Preliminary Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) for Periphyton in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, California – Draft Report, by David B. Herbst and Dean W. Blinn, August 2008
- Comparison of the Performance of Different Bioassessment Methods: similar evaluations of biotic integrity from separate programs and procedures, by David B. Herbst and Erik L. Silldorff, June 2006
- Performance of Different Bioassessment Methods from California: Side by Side Comparisons of Field, Laboratory and Analysis Procedures for Streams of the Eastern Sierra Nevada, by David B. Herbst and Erik L. Silldorff, November 2004
- Use of Diatoms and Soft Algae as Indicators of Stream Abiotic Determinants in the Lahontan Basin, by Dean W. Blinn and David B. Herbst, December 2003
- Links to other methods & protocols for bioassessment
Restoration Project Evaluations
- Trout Creek Restoration Monitoring: Changing Benthic Invertebrate Indicators in a Reconstructed Channel, by David B. Herbst, September 2009
- Responses of Aquatic Macroinvertebrates to Stream Channel Reconstruction in a Degraded Rangeland Creek in the Sierra Nevada, by David B. Herbst and Jeffrey M. Kane, March 2009
- Macroinvertebrate Monitoring for the Bagley Valley Watershed Restoration Project on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest: Final Report, by David B. Herbst and Jeffrey M. Kane, September 2004
BMP Effectiveness Monitoring
- Responses of Stream Channels, Riparian Habitat, and Aquatic Invertebrate Community Structure to Varied Livestock Grazing Exposure and Management in the West Walker River Watershed (Mono County, California), by David B. Herbst and Jeffrey M. Kane, May 2004
- Development of Sediment TMDL Guidance Indicators: Relation of roads and land use disturbances at different spatial scales to the depositional environment of streams in the Sierra Nevada and Central Coast of California, by David B. Herbst and others, January 2011
- Comparison of Sediment Load Models in Predicting Sediment Deposition Patterns in Streams of the Sierra Nevada and Central Coast of California, by David B. Herbst and others, January 2011
- Development of biological criteria for sediment TMDLs: the relation of sediment deposition to benthic invertebrate communities of streams exposed to varied land use disturbances in the Sierra Nevada and Coast Range mountains of California, by David B. Herbst and others, January 2011
- Benthic Biological Community Responses to Sediment Loading in Experimental Stream Mesocosm Channels, by David B. Herbst and others, January 2011
Other SWAMP Reports for the Lahontan Region
- Microbial Source Tracking at Bacteria-impaired Waters of the Lahontan Region
(Final Report prepared by principal investigator, Roland Knapp, Ph.D. for the Center for Eastern Sierra Aquatic Microbial Ecology with the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory, University of California-Santa Barbara to fulfill the requirements of Contract 13-054-160 with the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board)
- Bacterial Water Quality in the Lahontan Region
(Final Report prepared by principal investigator, Roland Knapp, Ph.D. for the Center for Eastern Sierra Aquatic Microbial Ecology with the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory, University of California-Santa Barbara to fulfill the requirements of Contract 12-067-160 with the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board)
- Bacteria in Streams of the Eastern Sierra
(Final Report prepared by the principal investigator, Roland Knapp, Ph.D. for the Center for EAstern Sierra Aquatic Microbial Ecology with the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory, University of California-Santa Barbara to fulfill the requirements of Contract 11-167-160 with the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board)
- Bacteria Monitoring in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, Summary of Results for 2011, by Carly Nilson and others, March 2012
- Development of Biological Water Quality Targets for Assessment of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) of Sediment in the Squaw Creek Watershed (Placer County, California), by David B. Herbst, April 2002
- Investigation of Near Shore Turbidity at Lake Tahoe, by Kendrick Taylor, March 2002
- Biomonitoring on the Upper Truckee River Using Aquatic Macroinvertebrates: Watershed Restoration Baseline Data for 1998-2000, by David B. Herbst, December 2001
- Raw data generated by the SWAMP program is posted on the California Environmental Data Exchange Network (CEDEN) as soon as quality assurance checks are complete. To access the data, please visit CEDEN and use the query tools to access regional SWAMP data.
- SWAMP Summary Report, 2000-2005
Lahontan Water Board SWAMP staff has prepared an assessment report for years 2000-2005. The report summarizes comparisons of SWAMP results to regulatory criteria contained in the Lahontan Basin Plan, California Toxics Rule, California Primary MCLs and California Secondary MCLs.
- SWAMP results for years 2000-2005, by Hydrologic Unit
Below are links to spreadsheet workbooks for each water body where sampling was conducted by the SWAMP program within the Lahontan Region from 2000-2005. The workbooks provide raw data as well as comparisons of the results to numerous regulatory and non-regulatory (i.e., advisory) criteria, including criteria contained in the Lahontan Basin Plan, California Toxics Rule, California Primary MCLs, California Secondary MCLs, California Public Health Goals, USEPA primary MCLs, USEPA secondary MCLs, USEPA (IRIS) Reference Dose (for Drinking Water), USEPA Health Advisory, USEPA National Ambient Water Quality Criteria, California DHS Action Level (Drinking Water), United Nations Water Quality for Agriculture criteria, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) Water Quality Criteria, and NDEP Water Quality Standards. The State Water Board's website provides more information about these various water quality criteria .
- Surprise Valley Hydrologic Unit (641.00)
- Susanville Hydrologic Unit (637.00)
- West Fork Carson River Hydrologic Unit (633.00)
- East Fork Carson River Hydrologic Unit (632.00)
- West Walker River Hydrologic Unit (631.00)
- East Walker River Hydrologic Unit (630.00)
- Owens River Hydrologic Unit (603.00)
- Amargosa River Hydrologic Unit (609.00)
- Antelope Hydrologic Unit (626.00)
- Mojave River Hydrologic Unit (628.00)
The California Environmental Data Exchange Network (CEDEN) provides a central location to store surface water quality data for California waterbodies. Created by the State Board with support from the Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP), CEDEN helps aggregate multiple data sets, so these data are accessible to environmental managers and the public.
Currently data uploaded into CEDEN for the Lahontan Water Board is comprised of 1) ambient water quality data collected by the regional SWAMP team, (2) monitoring data associated with projects in the Lahontan Region funded through contracts and grants, which require data reporting to CEDEN, (3) data generated by researchers, citizen monitors, and watershed groups, which though not required to upload into CEDEN, otherwise report data so it may be used for water quality assessment and/or made public, and (4) data related to implementation of the Lake Tahoe Total Maximum Daily Load.
To optimize sharing of surface water quality information, data collectors throughout the Lahontan Region are encouraged to store and share data in the CEDEN system.
Resources for Regional Data Collectors - Uploading Data into CEDEN
- Training: Recording of Webinar Training (Video) (11.30.2017)
- Agenda: CEDEN Data Submittal Training (11.30.2017)
- MPSL Data Management System
Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPPs)
To produce data that are scientifically valid and defensible, water quality monitoring projects should prepare and implement a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP). Data uploaded to CEDEN must be accompanied by a QAPP in order to be considered during routine water quality assessments conducted by Regional Water Boards. In accordance with The Water Quality Control Policy for Developing California’s Clean Water Act Section 303(d) List (Listing Policy), a QAPP or equivalent, as described in section 6.1.4 of the Listing Policy is required to determine the quality of the data and information being used for assessment.
A QAPP establishes quality assurance and quality control standards and procedures for a given monitoring project and ensures that data are of known and documented quality. A QAPP specifies the QA/QC methods and processes to be used for the field and laboratory portions of the project. Individuals and entities conducting water quality monitoring can utilize the guidance documents and example QAPPs provided below to understand the elements that should be included when preparing a quality assurance project plan.
Resources for Regional Data Collectors – Preparing a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP)
- EPA Guidance for Quality Assurance Project Plans This EPA guidance document describes the necessary QA procedures, QC activities, and other technical activities that should be implemented for a specific monitoring project.
- QAPP Checklist The State Board’s SWAMP Program has prepared a QAPP Checklist that details a list of the elements which should be included when preparing a QAPP for a water quality monitoring program.
- QAPP for SWAMP’s Stream Pollution Trends (SPoT) Monitoring Program
The QAPP prepared for the SPoT program provides an example of an effective QAPP prepared for a long-term monitoring project that investigates pollution trends and their effects on stream biota in California.
- QAPP for SWAMP’s Bioassessment Oversight Group (BOG) Long-Term Monitoring of Bass Lakes and Reservoirs in California The QAPP prepared for the SWAMP’s BOG program provides an example of an effective QAPP prepared for a long-term monitoring project that investigates the accumulation of pollutants including mercury, industrial pollutants (polychlorinated bipyenols), and pesticides in fish.
- Quality Assurance Program Plan (QAPrP) - SWAMP, May 2017 (SWAMP QAPrP) The SWAMP QAPrP establishes the requirements for collecting data as part of the Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP), and sets the stage for the QA documentation that is required for all statewide monitoring projects under the SWAMP Program.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
Standardized procedures have been developed for field and laboratory work associated with water quality monitoring programs. To collect samples that accurately represent the water bodies being monitored and to obtain scientifically defensible results, monitoring programs should follow standard operating procedures (SOPs). An SOP is defined as a written document that details the method of an operation, analysis, or action with techniques and procedures that are thoroughly prescribed for performing certain routine or repetitive tasks (FEM, 2012).The State Board’s SWAMP Program has posted various SOPs that may be implemented by individual and organizations conducting water quality monitoring. Many SOPs are reviewed and updated yearly or as needed.
Resources for Regional Data Collectors – Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
- Standard Operating Procedures for SWAMP Program – (SWAMP SOPs) Clicking the link above will connect you to SWAMP SOPs, which provide guidance for collection and analysis of water samples, bed sediment, benthic macroinvertebrates, bacteria, fish, stream algae, and cyanobacteria.
- Safe Eating Guidelines for Lake Gregory (San Bernardino County)
- Safe Eating Guidelines for Little Rock Reservoir (Los Angeles County)
- Safe Eating Guidelines for Silverwood Lake (San Bernardino County)
- Safe Eating Guidelines for Donner Lake (Nevada County)
- Fish Safety Info (Interactive Map & Other Resources) for State of California
- Other SWAMP Reports About Fish Safety
- Historic Fish Tissue Data for State of California
- State Water Board’s Toxic Substances Monitoring Program (1978-2000)
- Protocols for SWAMP bioassessment methods
The SWAMP program has published protocols and guidance to be used for most ambient bioassessments of perennial wadeable streams in California. Those protocols (for both benthic macroinvertebrates and algae), along with field forms and other bioassessment publications and tools are available at the State Water Board’s bioassessment webpage.
- Other protocols
It is important to note that, while the above protocols will be used in many situations, a variety of different protocols may be used or required in the Lahontan Region. For example, different taxonomic effort may be needed for some projects. Whenever bioassessment sampling is required by the Regional Water Board, the methods will be specified.
- Protocols for UC-SNARL method
For projects that rely on the UC-SNARL methodology (developed in the 1990s), the Quality Assurance Project Plan for that method remains available at this website.