Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment
Framework for Monitoring and Assessment
The mission of the San Diego Water Board (Board) is to protect and restore the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of waters in the San Diego Region. To enable the Board to carry out its mission more strategically and more effectively, Board staff prepared a report entitled “A Framework for Monitoring and Assessment in the San Diego Region” (Framework).The Framework outlines a systematic, question-driven, water body-oriented approach to monitoring and assessment that focuses on producing important and useful information. The Framework also outlines a collaborative “ten-step process” for implementation of this approach.
In December 2012, the Board members adopted Resolution No 2012-0069, “Resolution in Support of a Regional Monitoring Framework” (Resolution). In adopting the Resolution, the Board members endorsed the Framework and expressed its support for development and implementation of improved monitoring and assessment programs for waters in the San Diego Region.
The Resolution and Framework will help guide development and implementation of improved monitoring and assessment programs including these programs. Efforts include:
Implementation of the Monitoring and Assessment Framework: San Diego River Watershed Monitoring and Assessment Program
The San Diego River Watershed Monitoring and Assessment Program implements the new framework for monitoring and assessment in the San Diego Region by focusing on water body conditions, and by designing the program around the 4 major beneficial use questions. The final report on the San Diego River Watershed Monitoring and Assessment Framework presents a design for an integrated monitoring and assessment program for the San Diego River watershed. The San Diego Water Board is currently implementing the design with the stakeholder group. For additional information, please contact: Chad Loflen at 619-521-3370 or Chad.Loflen@waterboards.ca.gov.
Implementation of the Monitoring and Assessment Framework: Unified Beach Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Program in South Orange County
The Unified Beach Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Program in South Orange County (Unified Program) implements the framework for monitoring and assessment in the San Diego Region for the beneficial use of water contact recreation (REC-1) in coastal beach waters of south Orange County, including Dana Point Harbor. The Unified Program is set forth in a report entitled "Workgroup Recommendation for a Unified Beach Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Program in South Orange County." Requirements for implementation of the Unified Program are established in a California Water Code section 13383 letter directive. Relevant NPDES permits have been amended to reflect participation in the Unified Program. They include Orders R9-2012-0012, R9-2012-0013, and R9-2015-0001. For additional information, please contact Wayne Chiu at Wayne.Chiu@waterboards.ca.gov.
Implementation of the Monitoring and Assessment Framework: San Diego Bay
San Diego Bay is an important water body in the San Diego region due to its ecological value and because it supports tourism; commercial, recreational, and subsistence fishing; and a variety of recreational, maritime, industrial, commercial, and military uses. For this reason, the San Diego Water Board endorsed a "Strategy for a Healthy San Diego Bay" via Resolution No. R92015-0086 in June 2015. The Strategy identified the key beneficial use categories of the Bay as:
Recreation (water contact ("REC-1") and non-water-contact ("REC-2"));
Human consumption of fish and shellfish; and
Habitats and ecosystems
A primary goal of the Strategy is to use monitoring data to assess attainment of these key beneficial uses, as well as changes in their status over time, and to communicate findings to the public in the form of 2-page "status sheets". As of 2017, several status sheets have been prepared that describe present conditions (step "M1", in the Monitoring and Assessment Framework) in the Bay with respect to key beneficial uses:
- Water-contact (REC1) recreation
- Non-water-contact (REC2) recreation
- Fish and Shellfish consumption by humans
Monitoring Data and Assessments
CEDEN is a central location to find and share information about California’s water bodies, including streams, lakes, rivers, and the coastal ocean. Many groups in California monitor water quality, aquatic habitat, and wildlife health to ensure good stewardship of our ecological resources. CEDEN aggregates this data and makes it accessible to environmental managers and the public. SWAMP data can be accessed through CEDEN. Access CEDEN at www.ceden.org.
SWAMP data is also included in the MyWaterQuality-Portal of the State Water Resources Control Board. This web portal, supported by a wide variety of public and private organizations, presents California water quality monitoring data and assessment information that may be viewed across space and time. Access the MyWaterQuality-Portal at www.waterboards.ca.gov/mywaterquality.
FISH CONSUMPTION ADVISORIES AND GUIDELINES
Advisories and guidelines have been issued for human consumption of fish caught in three areas within the San Diego Region.
Additional information about such advisories and guidelines throughout California can be found on the MyWaterQuality Portal and from the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.
BEACH WATER QUALITY MONITORING(Is water quality safe for swimming?)
Beach water quality information for Orange County is available at the website of the Orange County Health Care Agency: http://ocbeachinfo.com/
Beach water quality information for San Diego County is available at the website of the County of San Diego County Department of Environmental Health: http://www.sdbeachinfo.com/.
SWAMP: SURFACE WATER AMBIENT MONITORING PROGRAM
Introduction to SWAMP
The Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP) is a program of the State Water Resources Control Board that monitors and assesses waters throughout California. The Board conducts monitoring and assessment of San Diego waters through SWAMP funding; this monitoring and assessment program is independent of permit-required monitoring. SWAMP is designed to provide resource managers, decision makers, and the public with accurate and timely information to evaluate the conditions of surface waters throughout California. This is accomplished through carefully designed monitoring programs and by coordinating monitoring with other entities within the region and statewide. This generates comparable data in integrated assessments that provides answers to important management questions. SWAMP is based on three priorities: (1) Statewide and Regional Monitoring, Assessment, and Reporting, (2) Coordination of Monitoring Activities, and (3) Development of Infrastructure and Tools.
The State Water Resources Control Board established SWAMP in 2000. Under SWAMP, "ambient" monitoring refers to any activity in which information about the status of the physical, chemical, and/or biological characteristics of the water bodies is collected to answer questions about the status and trends in water quality and beneficial uses of the water bodies. Monitoring under SWAMP does not include effluent or discharge monitoring, which is covered under the various Waste Discharge Requirements (WDR) issued by the San Diego Water Board.Access more information on SWAMP at www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/swamp/.
Statewide SWAMP Monitoring, Assessment, and Reporting
The Statewide Monitoring, Assessment, and Reporting of SWAMP consists of three large statewide programs: (1) Perennial Streams Assessment, (2) Bioaccumulation Monitoring Program, and (3) Stream Pollution Trends. Access more information on these programs at www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/swamp/.
Regional SWAMP Monitoring, Assessment, and Reporting
Information on previous, current, and future SWAMP Monitoring, Assessment, and Reporting in the San Diego region can be found here: San Diego Region SWAMP Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting.
SWAMP Quality Assurance
SWAMP ensures high quality data that is produced by SWAMP regional and statewide efforts. The SWAMP Quality Assurance Team develops and applies Quality Assurance systems to all program phases from sample collection to analysis to data processing and management. Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPPs) are developed for each of the statewide and regional monitoring programs.
The overall SWAMP Quality Assurance Program Plan can be accessed here: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/swamp/tools.html#qa.
WATERSHED STATUS SHEETS
The San Diego Water Board is preparing a series of "status sheets" as brief communications to apprise the public of the condition of watersheds in the region based on data collected via the SWAMP program and its partners (e.g., the southern California Stormwater Monitoring Coalition; SMC). The initial focus of the two-page status sheets will be ecological condition of the watersheds based on biological data (benthic macroinvertebrates and algae) as well as assessments using the California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) for riparian wetlands. Status sheets are now available for an updated version of the San Diego River watershed and the San Mateo Creek watershed. Additional status sheets are also available on recent fish tissue sampling in the San Diego River and the presence of caffeine in Region 9 streams.
REPORTS AND PUBLICATIONS
Reports and publications that were produced and/or funded (in whole or in part) by the San Diego Water Board's SWAMP program are provided here.
New: two reports relating to assessment of submerged aquatic vegetation beds in nearshore, soft-bottom habitats: Development of a Monitoring and Assessment Framework for Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) and Recommendations for a Southern California Regional Eelgrass Monitoring Program
A report on the prevalence of cyanotoxins in southern California waterbodies based on screening assessments and regional monitoring programs, as well as another report on the first-year findings from a study of cyanotoxins along the land-sea interface in California. In addition, recent cyanotoxin-related contributions to the statewide SWAMP newsletter from San Diego region include a fact sheet on stream benthic cyanotoxins in San Diego and beyond, as well as a fact sheet on cyanotoxins in lentic water bodies.
A fact sheet on the development of molecular tools for use in bioassessment based on algae
A report on the abundance and distribution of plastic debris in San Diego Bay
For additional information, please contact: Betty Fetscher, SWAMP coordinator for the San Diego Region, phone (619) 521-3358 or Betty.Fetscher@waterboards.ca.gov.