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    Biological Monitoring of the Aquatic Environment

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    A nation-wide water quality monitoring network was operated from 1957 to 1968 by a central Federal laboratory in Cincinnati. The network was decentralized in 1968, and the responsibility for its operation was transferred to the regional offices of the Federal Water Quality Administration. Following the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, an Office of Monitoring was established to provide overall technical coordination of the monitoring program and to standardize methodology and maintain quality control of the data. The responsibility for water quality monitoring in the EPA will be shared by the Office of Monitoring, Office of Air and Water Programs, Office of Enforcement and General Counsel, and Office of Research. Four types of monitoring have been identified—ambient trend monitoring, source monitoring, case preparation monitoring, and research monitoring. The water quality monitoring network of the EPA will consist of 5000 to 10 000 EPA-funded stations and 40 000 to 50 000 stations operated by state and local agencies. The data will be stored in a central EPA computerized system called STORET. The responsibility for quality control and the development, validation and standardization of chemical, microbiological, and biological methodology for water and waste water has been assigned to the Analytical Quality Control Laboratory (AQCL) in Cincinnati.

    Water quality is reflected in the species composition and diversity, population density and physiological condition of indigenous communities of aquatic organisms. Biological methodology employed in water quality monitoring in the EPA deals primarily with sample collection, sample processing, counting and identification of aquatic organisms, biomass measurements, measurement of bioaccumulation and biomagnification of pollutants, and biological data processing and interpretation. The AQCL conducts research in all areas of biological methodology for water quality monitoring, develops reference samples for quality control, and conducts agency-wide interlaboratory methods studies. An Agency biological methods manual is in preparation and will be available in 1973.


    water pollution, environmental surveys, biomass, marine microorganisms, biological methods, plankton, periphyton, macrophyton, macroinvertebrates, fishes, bioassay, water quality monitoring

    Author Information:

    Weber, CI
    Chief, Analytical Quality Control Laboratory, National Environmental Research Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, Ohio

    Committee/Subcommittee: D19.06

    DOI: 10.1520/STP34716S