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ASTM D5851-95(2021)

Standard Guide for Planning and Implementing a Water Monitoring Program

Standard Guide for Planning and Implementing a Water Monitoring Program D5851-95R21 ASTM|D5851-95R21|en-US Standard Guide for Planning and Implementing a Water Monitoring Program Standard new BOS Vol. 11.01 Committee D19
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Significance and Use

4.1 The user of this guide is not assumed to be a technical practitioner in the water field. This guide is an assembly of the components common to all aspects of water monitoring and fulfills a need in the development of a common framework for a better coordinated and more unified approach to monitoring water.

4.2 Limitations—This guide does not establish a standard procedure to follow in all cases and it does not cover the details necessary to meet a particular monitoring objective.


1.1 Purpose—This guide is generic in its application to surface or ground water, rivers, lakes, or estuaries (quantity and quality). It proposes a series of options that offer direction without recommending a definite course of action and discusses the major elements that are common to all purposes of water monitoring.

1.2 The elements described are applicable whether the monitoring is only for one location or integrates multiple measurement sites for the purpose of assessing a whole watershed, estuary, or aquifer system.

1.3 This guide is intended to outline for planners and administrators the components, process, and procedures which should be considered when proposing, planning, or implementing a monitoring program. The guide is not a substitute for obtaining specific technical advice. The reader is not assumed to be a technical practitioner in the water field; however, practitioners will find it a good summary of practice and a handy checklist. Other standard guides have or will be prepared that address the necessary detail.

1.4 Monitoring Components—A water monitoring program is composed of a set of activities, practices, and procedures designed to collect reliable information of known accuracy and precision concerning a particular water resource in order to achieve a specific goal or purpose. The purposes may range in scope from tracking status and trends on a regional or national basis to gathering data to determine the effects of a specific management practice or pollution incident such as a spill. This guide suggests and discusses the following process and components:

1.4.1 Establishment of program goals and objectives and recording of decisions in a written plan (see 6.1),

1.4.2 Developing background data and a conceptual model (see 6.1.12),

1.4.3 Establishment of data (quality, quantity, type) objectives (see 6.2),

1.4.4 Design of field measurement and sampling strategies and specification of laboratory analyses and data acceptance criteria (see 6.3),

1.4.5 Data storage and transfer (see 6.6),

1.4.6 Implementation of sampling and analysis strategies (see 6.4),

1.4.7 Data quality assessment (see 6.5),

1.4.8 Assessment of data (see 6.7),

1.4.9 Program evaluation (see 6.8), and

1.4.10 Reporting (see 6.9). See also Fig. X1.1 in Appendix X1 and the condensed list of headings in Appendix X2.

1.5 Monitoring Purposes—Establishing goals defines the purpose for monitoring. Each purpose has some monitoring design needs specific to itself. There are six major purposes for water monitoring. They are as follows:

1.5.1 Determining the Status and Trends of Water Conditions—This can require long term, regular monitoring to determine how parameters change over time.

1.5.2 Detecting Existing and Emerging Problems—Determining if, how, or where a substance may move through an aquatic system, or if water quantities are changing.

1.5.3 Developing and Implementing Management and Regulatory Programs—Includes baseline and reconnaissance monitoring to characterize existing conditions such as to identify critical areas or hot spots; implementation monitoring to assess whether activities were carried out as planned; and compliance monitoring to determine if specific water quality or water use criteria were met.

1.5.4 Responding to an Emergency—Performed to provide information in the near term.

1.5.5 Evaluating the Effectiveness of Water Monitoring Programs—Is the monitoring able to achieve the stated goals? Also, monitoring to check on monitoring.

1.5.6 Supporting research objectives or validating of simulation models.

1.6 This guide is applicable to these purposes and provides guidance on some of the specific needs of each. After goals and objectives have been established, a specialist can define the type, frequency, and duration of sampling and measurements. The specialist also will be able to forecast the data analysis needed to meet the objectives.

1.7 There are related standards currently available or under development and several documents that prescribe protocols for water monitoring (4-9). See also Section 2.

1.8 This guide suggests that water monitoring programs use standardized documented protocols for all aspects of the program. Where they are not available or appropriate, the methods used should be documented.

1.9 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.10 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 11.01
Developed by Subcommittee: D19.02
Pages: 11
DOI: 10.1520/D5851-95R21
ICS Code: 13.060.10