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North Carolina DENR: DWQ Ambient Monitoring System

Sponsoring Organization:  North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources: Division of Water Quality

Description:  The AMS consists of a network of stations established to provide site-specific, long-term water quality information on significant rivers, streams, and estuaries throughout the state. The program has been active for over thirty years. Stations are visited at least monthly for the collection of a variety of physical, chemical, and bacterial pathogen samples and measurements. Details of the program design and implementation can be found in the Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP), SOP, and other links on the left of this page. General information on objectives, indicators measured, and data availability is provided below.

Web Site:  http://h2o.enr.state.nc.us/esb/ams.html

Program Contact:  Jay Sauber

Program Contact Email:  jay.sauber@ncmail.net

Program Contact Web URL:  http://h2o.enr.state.nc.us/esb/ams.html

Program Purpose:  The AMS' primary objectives are: * To monitor waterbodies of interest for determination of levels of chemical, physical, and bacterial pathogen indicators for comparison to a selection of the state's water quality standards and action levels. * To identify locations where exceedances of water quality standards and action levels for physical and chemical indicators occur in more than 10% of samples/measurement (20% for coliforms). * To identify long-term temporal or spatial patterns. Data produced by the AMS are also used to support several DWQ water quality management programs, including Basinwide Water Quality Management Plan development, biennial 305(b) and 303(d) reporting to EPA, TMDL development, and development of NPDES permit limits.

Data Access Web URL:  http://h2o.enr.state.nc.us/esb/AMS%20Data%20from%20STORET%2020060714.pdf

Data Access Information:  Obtaining data All data collected as part of the AMS over the last 30+ years are readily available online from the U.S. EPA's STORET database. The warehouse currently contains over 5 million AMS results, and approximately 100,000 new records are added annually. AMS staff have developed a guidance document to assist new users with downloading data from STORET. A data explanations document is also available, which was originally developed to assist with interpreting data retrievals obtained directly from the AMS program, but it also provides general information on station codes and data caveats. In addition to storing raw results in STORET, AMS data are summarized by basin on a rotating five-year cycle and reported as part of the Environmental Sciences Section's Basin Assessment Reports.

Sampling Design:  The AMS focuses primarily on chemical, physical, and bacterial pathogen characteristics of the water column. The indicators are primarily selected from those chemicals that have current state water quality standards and can be cost-effectively analyzed. Additional indicators are also included that may not have specific associated standards but are useful for interpretation of other measurements. Others are, of themselves, useful for identifying long-term trends. A basic core suite of indicators is measured at all stations. These include water temperature, specific conductance, turbidity, total suspended residue, DO, metals (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Pb, Ni, Zn, Al), fecal coliform, and weather conditions. Additional indicators may be included depending on site-specific concerns such as stream classification, discharge types, and historical or suspected issues. Examples of these site-specific indicators include salinity, Secchi depth, flow, nutrients (NH3, NO2+NO3, TKN, TP), fluoride, sulf

Data Collection Area Description:  Currently there are 339 active AMS stations. Stations are located in all seventeen major river basins of the state, and in 95 of North Carolina's 100 counties.

Quality Assurance Plan:  A Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) has been developed that describes the design and implementation of every aspect of the AMS program. The QAPP was approved by EPA in December 2004, and is being provided here to allow users of AMS results to determine if the data generated by this program meet the Data Quality Objectives (DQOs) of their particular project. The QAPP can be downloaded as a single document or by section. http://h2o.enr.state.nc.us/esb/qa_000.html

Monitoring Stations:  no stations are currently registered in the database

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