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Field Operations Manuals

Estuaries Lakes Streams & Rivers


National Coastal Assessment: Field Operations Manual, 2001. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Gulf Ecology Division, Gulf Breeze, FL. EPA/620/R-01/003

The methods described in this manual reflect standard procedures developed by EMAP-Estuaries during 10 years of coastal monitoring activities conducted in all coastal regions of the contiguous U.S. This manual reflects a national focus. The overall objective is to put a practical field methods guide into the hands of the participating field teams that allows a reasonable degree of flexibility to individual states, while at the same time, provides adequate structure to ensure the uniform collection of comparable field data on a national basis.

Water Quality: One of the activities to be performed at every station is the collection of water quality
information (salinity, temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen [DO]). At each station a vertical
profile through the water column will be obtained using a profiling instrument.

Water Column Nutrients: Water samples will be collected at each site and analyzed for:

Samples should be collected at three depths; surface, mid-water, and bottom, depending upon the depth of the water:

Sediments: Sediments are collected for a variety of analyses. One grab sample is collected for benthic species composition and abundance; the entire content of the grab will be sieved to collect benthos. Additional sediment grabs are collected for chemical analyses, grain size determination, and for use in acute toxicity tests.

Fish Trawls: After all required sediments are collected, one or more trawls are made to collect fish for species composition, relative abundance, chemical analysis, and pathological examination.

Packaging and Shipping Samples: After samples are collected, following proper packaging and shipping procedures are critical steps in assuring the integrity of the samples. Failure to follow these procedures could result in the loss of valuable data. Each sample type requires different handling as described below. Packaging and shipping are to be performed within several days of sample collection.

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Field Operations Manual for Lakes, 1997. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program Surface Waters. EPA/620/R-97/001. Washington D.C.

Abstract: The methods and instructions for field operations presented in this manual for lake surveys were developed and tested through 4 years of pilot and demonstration projects from 1991 through 1994. These projects were conducted under the sponsorship of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its collaborators through the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP). This program focuses on evaluating ecological conditions on regional and national scales. This document describes procedures for collecting data, samples, and information about biotic assemblages, environmental measures, or attributes of indicators of lake ecosystem condition. The procedures presented in this manual were developed based on standard or accepted methods, modified as necessary to adapt them to EMAP sampling requirements. In addition to methodology, additional information on data management and other logistical aspects is integrated into the procedures and overall operational scenario. Procedures are described for collecting chlorophyl a, water, sedimentary diatoms, and zooplankton data in conjunction with the development of standard methods to obtain acceptable index samples for macrobenthos, fish assemblage, fish tissue contaminants, riparian birds, and physical habitat structure. The manual describes field implementation of these methods and the logistical foundation constructed during field projects. The manual includes flow charts with overall summaries of specific field activities required to visit a lake site and collect data for these indicators. Tables give step-by-step protocol instructions. These figures and tables can be extracted and bound separately to make a convenient quick field reference for field teams. The manual also includes example field data forms for recording measurements and observations made in the field and sample tracking information. Checklists of all supplies and equipment needed for each field task are included to help ensure that these materials are available when required.

Development of a Technique for Lake Habitat Survey (LHS): Phase 1, 2004. Rowan, et. al. University of Dundee, Dundee, Scotland. (Document pdf 2.5 MB, Executive Summary)

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Streams & Rivers

Surface Waters Western Pilot Study: Field Operations Manual for Wadeable Streams. April 2003 DRAFT (pdf 38.3 MB)

Only field-related sampling and data collection activities are presented in this manual. Laboratory procedures and methods (including sample processing and analytical methods) associated with each ecological indicator are summarized in Chaloud and Peck (1994); detailed procedures may be published as a separate document.

Section 2 presents a general overview of the activities a 4-person field team conducts during a typical one-day sampling visit to a stream site. General guidelines for recording data and using standardized field data forms and sample labels are also presented. Finally, safety and health considerations and guidelines related to field operations are provided.

Section 3 addresses base location activities. Field teams conduct a number of activities at a "base" location before and after visiting each stream site. These activities are generally conducted on the same day as the sampling visit. Close attention to these activities is required to ensure that the field teams know where they are going, that access to the stream site is possible and permissible, that all the necessary equipment and supplies are in good order to complete the sampling effort, and that samples are packaged and shipped correctly and promptly.

Section 4 provides guidance for the inital site procedures. When a field team first arrives at a stream site, they must first confirm they are at the correct site. Then they determine if the stream meets certain criteria for sampling and data collection activities to occur. They must decide whether the stream is unduly influenced by rain events which could affect the representativeness of field data and samples. Certain conditions at the time of the visit may warrant the collection of only a subset of field measurements and samples. Finally, if it is determined that the stream is to be sampled, the team lays out a defined reach of the stream within which all subsequent sampling and measurement activities are conducted.

Additional sections provide specific guidance for: Water Chemistry, Stream Discharge, Physical Habitat Characterization, Channel and Riparian Measurements, Periphyton, Sediments, Benthic Macroinvertebrates, Aquatic Vertebrates, Fish Tissue Contaminants, and Rapid Habitat and Visual Stream Assessments. Field forms for data recording are also included.

Response Design for Wadeable Streams

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Wadeable Stream Assessment (WSA website)

The manual contains procedures for collecting samples and measurement data from selected biotic and abiotic components of streams in the eastern United States for the Wadeable Streams Assessment. These procedures were initially developed and used between 1993 and 2003 in research studies of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP), and published in Lazorchak et al. (1998) and modified by Peck et al. (2003) for use on an extensive pilot study in the western United States (EPA Regions 8, 9, and 10). The purposes of this manual are to: (1) Document the procedures used in the collection of field data and various types of samples for the Wadeable Streams Assessment (WSA) and (2) provide these procedures for use by other groups implementing stream monitoring programs similar to WSA and these procedures.

Website also includes Quality Assurance Plan, Site Evaluation Guide, Water Chemistry Laboratory Manual, and several fact sheets on program components.

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