Water Quality

Stream scholars analyze the DO of Skaggs Run (Photo courtesy of the Cacapon Institute)
Water samples should be collected from the most represented portion of a stream, which is usually the run (a fast moving area without surface breaks) and as close to the downstream end of the reach as possible.  Analysis can be performed either in the field or lab.  Most of your results should fall within the excellent or good ranges.  The exceptions are pH (marginal – excellent) and dissolved oxygen (marginal – excellent).  Note: The total metals category is a combination of all metals that may be present.  Click-Here for an overview on basic water chemistry. 

The formula to convert temperature from Fahrenheit ºF to Celsius ºC is:
([ºF - 32] ÷ 9) x 5 = ºC








> 40

21 - 40

5 - 20

< 5



7.6 - 9.0

6.5 - 7.5

6.0 - 6.5

< 6.0 > 9.0


Dissolved oxygen

> 10.0 

7.0 - 10.0

7.0 - 5.0 

< 5.0



50 - 250

250 - 500

< 50 

> 500



< 1.0

1.0 - 2.0

2.0 - 4.0

> 4.0



< 1.0

1.0 - 1.5

1.6 - 3.0

> 3.0



< 100

100 - 200

201 - 400

> 400


 Click-Here for a detailed table with information on containers, preservatives and holding times.
Note: The values provided here are for guidance and educational purposes; they do not necessarily conform to water quality standards and in some cases a standard may not exists (e.g. nutrients, conductivity etc.).  However, the values are based upon ranges that maintain the ecological integrity of many stream environments.  Click-Here to learn more
 Additional Resources
  1. A citizen’s guide to monitoring lakes and streams (Washington Dept. of Ecology - dated but still an excellent resource)
  2. An introduction to the properties of water (Wikipedia) 
  3. Bacteria Monitoring (A Methods Manual for Citizen Volunteers)
  4. Latitude and Logitude conversion: DMS -> DD (xls file) 
  5. Learn how to determine the % saturation of dissolved oxygen
  6. Marcellous shale monitoring resources (Dickinson College)
  7. Periodic Table of Elements 
  8. Overview of pollutant Loads (A vareity of resources that provide a better understanding as well as tools for calculating pollutant loads) 
  9. River Networks virtual training: Water quality standards 
  10. Safe Waters, Healthy Waters: A Citizen's Guide to Bacteria Monitoring in Local Waters 
  11. Survey data sheet from WV Save Our Streams to evaluate physiochemical conditions
  12. Trout Unlimited's Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program; Click-Here to download the manual
  13. USA Volunteer Monitoring Network
  14. US EPA's Water Quality Standards Academy
  15. Wolf Creek Evaluation: Analyze the conditions of a watershed using basic water chemistry.  Go to this activity to learn more.  Note: Requires a pdf download to submit your answers.
  16. Learn more on the American Chemical Society's (ACS) website   
  17. WV Rivers Coalition and Trout Unlimited's - Eastern shale gas monitoring program
To learn more about water quality data collected by WAB from our rivers and streams use this on-line tool for your queries.  Click-Here to query data from WAB ambient stations

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