In Reply Refer To:
Mail Stop 412

May 30, 2012

Office of Water Quality Technical Memorandum 2012.04

Subject: Continuous Water Quality Committee

Rapid advances in water quality (WQ) sensor technologies and their applications for long-term deployments require the timely updating of standardized techniques and practices to increase efficiency and provide quality-assured, reliable data. The Office of Water Quality (OWQ) recognizes the need for advice from experts to guide the process of improving the existing tools and techniques. In order to meet this need, the Continuous Water Quality Committee (the CWQC) has been established by the OWQ.


A short term workgroup was convened in July 2009 to develop a plan for the automation of continuous water-quality data processing. A key resource for this workgroup was a recent report from the Water-Quality Value Engineering Study. The report was a product of a team (including individuals from sensor manufacturers as well as USGS water-quality experts) that used two intensive surface-water site visits (Raleigh, NC and Lawrence, KS) to evaluate the USGS water-quality monitoring processes and procedures. The recommendations included efficiency improvement ideas and suggestions for adopting new technologies.

The workgroup members were Ken Hyer, Chair, VA WSC, Jim Caldwell, ME WSC, Mark Gress, FL WSC, Kevin Grimsley, FL WSC, Callie Oblinger, Water Science Field Team, Tim Oden, TX WSC, Pat Rasmussen, KS WSC, Kevin Richards, WI WSC, Stewart Rounds, OR WSC, and Rick Wagner, WA WSC. The workgroup provided a comprehensive report to OWQ in July 2011. The report provided advice to the OWQ about the highest priority actions needed to improve the efficiency of water-quality time-series data processing, a strategic vision document for the future, and a recommendation that a standing team be formed to continue to advise and facilitate the implementation of the vision. The standing team will be the CWQC.


The CWQC Charter calls for the committee to provide assistance and guidance to the OWQ regarding all aspects of the development and use of water-quality sensors for point measurements and extended deployments for continuous monitoring. This includes all tools needed to collect water-quality sensor data and the working, review and approval of continuous water-quality records.
The committee works with and represents OWQ interests on other committees and workgroups to advance USGS methods for data collection and processing such as the Quality of Water Instrument Committee (QWIC), the Hydroacoustics Work Group (HaWG), the optical sensor work group, the Sediment Acoustic Leadership Team (SALT), and the National Water Quality Monitoring Council’s Sensor Workgroup. Several members of the CWQC are serving as members in one or more of the other committees or workgroups to provide collaboration and consistency where it is needed.


Ken Hyer (Chair), VA WSC, Optical Sensor Workgroup member
Pat Rasmussen, KS WSC, CARP member, Optical Sensor Workgroup member, SWUG member, CHIMP development team member
Stewart Rounds, OR WSC, Optical Sensor Workgroup member
Tim Oden, TX WSC
Mark Gress, FL WSC
Kevin Grimsley, FL WSC, CHIMP development team member
Callie Oblinger, WSFT, Site Management Advisory Committee member (SMAC)
Rick Wagner, WA WSC, Optical Sensor Workgroup member, National Water Quality Monitoring Council, Methods and Data Comparability Board member
Brian Pellerin, CA WSC, Optical Sensor Workgroup Chair


  1. Development of a tool to automatically generate the continuous water-quality data-review package (WQMReview): Manual preparation of the data-review package within ADAPS is rather inefficient and generally fixed to the water year. A more efficient tool was needed to make this process less time consuming. The new tool will operate on any user-defined time period, and will include the following review package components:

    This tool was developed by Wade Walker, who also developed the widely used SW_Review tool. This new tool is specifically designed for reviewing continuous water-quality records.

  2. Development of a CHIMP-based Auto-correction loader (ACL) Program: The CWQC recognized the benefits of CHIMP as an electronic field form and SiteVisit as the database for these data. However, fouling and drift corrections are still manually computed and loaded into ADAPS, or downloaded into an excel spreadsheet and pushed into ADAPS from the spreadsheet. The ACL program automates the computation and loading of data corrections directly from SiteVisit into ADAPS, eliminating the need for excel spreadsheets to manage the corrections. This tool was developed by Pat Rasmussen and Steve Brady, both from the Kansas WSC. It is in the final stages of testing and will be released by the end of the fiscal year. Training webinars will be announced.

  3. A “ Continuous Monitoring Tools ” Training Class was developed and offered at the 2011 National Data Conference. It was designed to serve as a "train the trainer" class. It covered water-quality data acquisition, processing, and storage--from field to ADAPS--using linked software tools including CHIMP, the Oregon spreadsheet, SSHOVEL, and the CHIMP Autoloader. The class will be offered again at the 2012 National Data Conference (Portland, Oregon, Fall 2012).

  4. Updates to the Continuous Water-Quality Monitor Course material to reflect these new tools and more efficient processes have been completed.

Next Steps

  1. Training – The Committee will develop training related to the two newly developed tools, as well as training on the integrated application of many newer tools (including CHIMP, GRSAT, SiteVisit).
  2. Testing a Data Quality Rating Tool – Stewart Rounds (OR WSC) has developed this tool with help from several other members of the committee. The tool provides a more efficient way to assign data quality ratings to continuous water-quality data. While this tool is not likely to solve all challenges with characterizing the uncertainty associated with continuous water-quality measurements, it represents the next step in that discussion, and should help several WSCs that are wrestling with this issue.
  3. Coordinate with the QWIC, CARP, the Optical Sensors Workgroup, etc. – A number of significant activities related to water-quality time-series data are underway and managed by specific task groups. The Committee will either be directly involved in these other task groups or maintain communication with them. The purpose of the interactions will be to coordinate the overall direction and progress of developments relative to continuous water-quality data.

More information about the activities and products of the CWQC can be found on their sharepoint site. If you have questions, please contact the Chair of the Committee, Ken Hyer (

OWQ would like to thank the members of the initial workgroup as well as the members of the current CWQC for all the work they have done to date. The advice they have provided has been invaluable and has guided our priorities in funding and focus for about two years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Donna N. Myers /s/
Chief, Office of Water Quality
This memorandum does not supersede any other OWQ Technical Memorandum.
Distribution: All WRD Employees