Values of Long Term Monitoring


Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 10:24:11 -0700
From: “Williams, Gene”
Subject: [volmonitor] Values of Long-Term monitoring

I am looking for good arguments justifying the continuation of a monitoring program. We have a successful volunteer lake monitoring program that has been going for 13 years (a mere baby compared to the programs recognized in the recent email exchanges). Our program is well-supported by management, but each year there are questions such as: Haven’t you collected enough data yet? Don’t you have a good understanding of the lakes already? When does this program come to an end? Haven’t you satisfied most of your goals already? What’s the value of long-term monitoring compared to specific short term restoration projects? How do we convince elected officials and the public that this is not just another self-perpetuating government-funded program?

We obviously have responses to these questions—citing the value of long-term data and identifying trends, and the cost-effectiveness of volunteer monitoring, and the need for current, valid data as watershed conditions change and specific water quality concerns arise. But, I am looking to sharpen our responses and make even stronger statements about the value of long-term monitoring.

Any thoughts you have about this issue would be appreciated.

Gene Williams
Snohomish County Surface Water Management
2731 Wetmore Avenue
Everett, WA 98201
(425) 388-3464 x4563


Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 12:15:29 -0700 (PDT)
From: David J Wilson
Subject: [volmonitor] Re: Values of Long-Term monitoring

Some additional arguments you’ve doubtless already thought of:

1. In developing areas, especially, changing situations and land use patterns bring new problems and exacerbate old ones. It is essential that one have both old and new data to spot trends that may require action. Long-term monitoring problems are somewhat like getting annual physical checkups from your doctor. It’s not a good idea to stop after you’ve had five or six!

2. Continued monitoring is needed to assess the effectiveness of various Best Management Practices as they are implemented. BMPs often cost quite a bit of money, and we need to be seeing how well they’re working.

3. In case regulatory or legal action is required, adequate and timely data are essential. Often in environmental work, comparisons between sites are needed. In order to make these with timely, relevant data, continuous establishment of an on-going baseline is necessary.

4. (Probably the least persuasive, but I’ll toss it into the pot anyway.) Ongoing monitoring programs help to educate the public and to focus its attention on environmental problems of current concern. No amount of emotional, highly visible tree-hugging and spotted owl-loving is likely to be as effective in the long haul as good, solid, current data that are carefully, conservatively, accurately interpreted.

Hope I’ve been able to be of some help. Best of luck.
Dave Wilson
Member, Huron River Watershed Council


Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 12:36:12 -0700
From: Chrys Bertolotto
Subject: [volmonitor] Re: Values of Long-Term monitoring

Other items to add to the list:

Additional Eyes and Ears: Many agencies and organizations have limited resources. On-going volunteers have the knowledge and physical presence to identify and document problems quickly. Some examples include dumping, illicit water connections, vegetation clearing, invasive weed establishment, etc. With quick follow-up, these problems can be effectively addressed through the appropriate channels to remove that threat. Without the volunteer presence, those problems might go unnoticed and continue to threaten the natural resource quality.

I’ve found that providing a list of examples of some of the problems volunteers have spotted and their fixes has been very compelling.

Outside Data Uses: Different agencies may tap into your volunteer data for a variety of ‘implementation’ reasons: Clean Water Act Cleanup plans, Endangered Species Act Recovery Plans, tribal water quality assessments. Conveying how the use of hits data benefits the agency (and not just the natural resource) to meet larger regulatory mandates might help.

Chrys Bertolotto
City of Issaquah Resource Conservation Office (WA)
Water Quality and Habitat Stewardship Coordinator
(425) 837-3442


Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 18:53:28 -0400
From: “Stuart R. Lynde”
Subject: [volmonitor] RE: Values of Long-Term monitoring

Long-term monitoring is crucial to early detection of problems within the system. It is not unlike a periodic physical or an annual mammogram in health care terms. Long term monitoring allows for early detection of problems, before they become more significant and costly. As early detection of tumors via mammograms greatly increases the overall survival rate and lowers overall cost and recovery time in patients with breast cancer, so to does volunteer monitoring increase the likelihood of early detection, of many potential threats to a water body, resulting in quicker recovery and overall lower costs. These threats include establishment of invasive species, such as species of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAVs), invasive fish such the snakehead. or the early warnings of invasive invertebrate such as the zebra mussel. Early Detection in one system will increase chances of containing an invasive, or more importantly preventing the invasive from migrating to another nearby water body.

Volunteers are typically much more intimately associated with “their” water body, than are agency personnel. This closeness with a system allows them to better distinguish when something is “different”, even if they cannot quantify those changes. This kind of intuitive monitoring is very difficult to acquire without local involvement. They are quick to recognize subtle changes that are out of the norm for that particular water body,

Volunteer monitoring programs are more likely to recognize dramatic changes in a system more rapidly. Rarely do state officials notice something on a “drive by”. Typically, there is only time and funding to investigate a system that has been reported as having a problem. Volunteer monitoring groups play a key role in the early detection of gross changes, fish kills, dumping, short-lived toxic water quality changes. It’s the extreme changes like, dramatic pH changes, localized toxic events that kill quickly and can do long term damage. Unfortunately the root causes can disappear rapidly, or becomes so dilute as to make it difficult, if not impossible to track.

Volunteers can drive down the overall cost of monitoring a system. Volunteers can be used to do many of the tasks required to “prepare” collect and prepare samples for analytical analysis. In our own lab, we are able to offset the cost of analysis for benthic samples by having volunteer groups doing the sampling and sorting or the samples prior to shipping them to us. This allows us to offer pricing for Lowest Practical Taxon analysis (RBP III) for a price less than that for family level data, with all the QA/QC necessary to make the data useful state monitoring and enforcement programs. Done right, volunteers can get you a significantly better “Bang for the $”

Currently ES&C is offering special pricing on benthic work, primarily aimed specifically at volunteer monitoring groups. More information is located at ES&C is a certified HUBZone small business providing environmental consulting services to clients nationwide from offices in Virginia and Indiana.

Just my $0.02 and the corporate plug


Stuart R. Lynde
Environmental Services & Consulting, LLC
101 Professional Park Drive, Suite 303
Blacksburg, VA 24060

Phone: 540-552-0144
Fax: 540-552-1528


Volunteer Wage Rates

Comment 1: The url of The Independent Sector site that lists the value of volunteer time, in dollars has been found.

Question 1: Volunteer Hourly Rate for FY05? Is this the volunteer rate we are all using this year?

Comment 1

Date: Mon, 26 Apr 2004 10:36:37 -0400
Subject: [volmonitor] volunteer wage rate

In case you didn’t bookmark this page, here is the url of The Independent Sector
site that lists the value of volunteer time, in dollars.
From the site:
 The value of volunteer time is based on the average hourly earnings of
 all production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls
 (as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics). INDEPENDENT SECTOR
 takes this figure and increases it by 12 percent to estimate for fringe
For 2003, the estimated value is $17.19 per hour.
HOWEVER, please scroll down the page and check out the state-by-staterates.  The dollar value of
volunteer labor varies considerably by State, according to this 2002chart (e.g., it’s much lower in
South Dakota than it is in New York).
Alice Mayio
USEPA (4503T)
(202) 566-1184

Question 1

From: Tony Williams []
Sent: Friday, December 02, 2005 2:06 PM
To: Volunteer water monitoring
Subject: RE:[volmonitor] [volmonitor]

Volunteer Hourly Rate for FY05?

The volunteer hourly rate for FY05 is $17.55. This rate will be used to
calculate value of service for all volunteers.

Is this the volunteer rate we are all using this year?

If so then I have 3660 vol/hr x $17.55= $64,233.00

Responses to Question 1

Linda Green wrote:

Hi Tony and all,
Here is the source for the $17.55 hourly rate for volunteering in the US in 2004:

URI Watershed Watch uses it to calculate match for grants and/or for calculating the value of our volunteer water quality monitors. The RI Department of Environmental Management has accepted this, as has the University of Rhode Island.
I know that this is not the case everywhere. What have others found?
Linda Green

URI Cooperative Extension Water Quality
Department of Natural Resources Science
1 Greenhouse Road
Kingston, RI 02881-0804


Date: Mon, 05 Dec 2005 10:31:33 -0500
From: Jane Brawerman
Subject: Re: [volmonitor] hourly rate for volunteering

Hi Linda and all –

For the past few years have been using a $25 hourly rate for our volunteers trained to conduct technical work, e.g. water quality sampling, field bioassessments, and invertebrate collection and id work, which is accepted by our CT DEP and others for grant match. When I learned from someone that she was distinguishing between technical/management type volunteers and others, and using the $25 rate successfully, I started doing the same. It makes sense, since volunteers perform a wide variety of work, some requiring more training and skill than others.

– Jane

Jane L. Brawerman, Executive Director
Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District
deKoven House Community Center – 27 Washington Street
Middletown, CT 06457
Phone (860) 346-3282
Fax (860) 346-3284


Date: Tue, 06 Dec 2005 10:13:47 -0500
From: Chris Sullivan
Subject: Re: [volmonitor] hourly rate for volunteering

Here in CT I wrote a grant for the watershed group I volunteer with in Branford (Branford River Project) and the 17.55 hourly match was allowed for volunteer time. The proposal was through the CT Rivers Alliance for the State Watershed Assistance in Small Grants program.


Chris Sullivan
Project SEARCH Coordinator
(203) 734-2513
FAX 203-922-7833
Center for Environmental Research Education
Kellogg Environmental Center
500 Hawthorne Ave
Derby, CT 06418


Date: Wed, 07 Dec 2005 10:21:50 -0500 (GMT-05:00)
From: Michael Schenk
Subject: Re:[volmonitor] hourly rate for volunteering

What if the volunteered services are at a professional level, e.g. taxonomy training or GIS work?


Date: Wed, 07 Dec 2005 10:09:47 -0600
From: “Lizotte, Michael”
Subject: Re:[volmonitor] hourly rate for volunteering

While the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources rate for general volunteers is very low ($8/hr), they do allow for volunteer professional services to be charged at the going rate, properly documented.

Mike Lizotte



Age of Volunteer Lake Monitoring Programs


Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 09:30:41 -0500
From: “Hudson, Holly”
Subject: [volmonitor] age of statewide volunteer lake monitoring programs?

Good morning everyone–

I’m trying to figure out how the Illinois Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program compares in age to other statewide volunteer lake monitoring programs. A quick web search shows that several programs claim to be “one of the oldest in the county” (including Illinois’ program which was established in 1981). Does anyone know if such a chronological list has been compiled?


Holly Hudson
Principal Environmental Analyst
NE Illinois VLMP Coordinator
Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission
222 S Riverside Plz Ste 1800
Chicago IL 60606
ph: 312/454-0400, ext. 302
fax: 312/454-0411


Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 10:54:42 -0400
From: URI Watershed Watch
Subject: [volmonitor] RE: age of statewide volunteer lake monitoring programs?Hello and Happy Spring Holly (and all):Sorry, but the data that we have pulled together for various ‘history’ of volunteer monitoring puts a number of statewide lakes programs ahead of Illinois (1971-78).Below is a brief chronology as we have compiled it:1890 National Weather Service – 11,500 volunteers, 500 stations, +100 years
1900 National Audubon Society – Christmas Bird Count
1954 National Marine Fisheries Service – game fish tagging
1969 Izaak Walton League – SOS, river & stream monitoring
1971-78 Maine, Minnesota, Michigan and NH – statewide lakes monitoring
1985 RI and Chesapeake Bay – estuary monitoring
1988 1st National Volunteer Monitoring Conference – 85 attend
1989 1st Issue of The Volunteer Monitor Newsletter

Happy Monitoring…

Elizabeth Herron
URI Watershed Watch
Phone: 401-874-4552
Fax: 401-874-4561

Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 09:57:50 -0500
From: “Filbert, Jennifer”
Subject: [volmonitor] RE: age of statewide volunteer lake monitoring programs?

Wisconsin’s Self-Help Citizen Lake Monitoring Network began in 1986.

Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 11:03:56 -0400
From: Bob Carlson
Subject: [volmonitor] RE: age of statewide volunteer lake monitoring programs?

The oldest lake program I know of is now called the Ontario Lake Partner
Program. It was started in 1972. In the US, the first program was started
in Minnesota in 1973 at the University of Minnesota. It subsequently was
taken over by the State and has become, I believe, the largest volunteer
lake monitoring program in the world. Hats off to thee, Minnesota!

Maine and Michigan came in about then as well.

At the Madison Volunteer Monitoring Meeting, someone was putting together a history of volunteer monitoring. Did that ever get published?

Bob Carlson
Professor, Biological Sciences Phone: 330 672 3992
Kent State University Fax: 330 672 3713
Kent OH 44242 E-mail:
See the latest on the Secchi Dip-In at

Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 11:17:57 -0400
From: “Lamoreaux, Andrea M”
Subject: [volmonitor] RE: age of statewide volunteer lake monitoring programs?

To add to the chronological list of volunteer lake monitoring programs…

The New Hamsphire Department of Environmental Services’ Volunteer Lake Assessment Program (NH VLAP) was initiated in 1985 with one lake. In 2003, 154 lakes and approximately 500 volunteers participated in NH VLAP.


Andrea LaMoreaux

Andrea LaMoreaux
Volunteer Lake Assessment Program Coordinator
New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
PO Box 95
29 Hazen Drive
Concord, New Hampshire 03302-0095

Telephone: (603) 271-2658
Fax: (603) 271-7894

Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 09:31:51 -0700
From: Eleanor Ely
Subject: [volmonitor] RE: age of statewide volunteer lake monitoring programs?

Virginia Lee wrote an article titled “Volunteer Monitoring : A Brief History” for the Spring 1994 issue of The Volunteer Monitor newsletter . The timeline included in that article basically agrees with the timeline below from Elizabeth Herron, except that the newsletter article puts the dates for the earliest lake monitoring programs as 1973-1974 for Minnesota , Michigan, and Maine.

(Elizabeth, where did you get that 1971 figure, and which program does it refer to?)

To read Virginia’s article, see the EPA web site for back issues of the newsletter, at


Eleanor Ely
Editor, The Volunteer Monitor Newsletter
50 Benton Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94112

Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 13:47:26 -0400
From: VLMP
Subject: [volmonitor] RE: age of statewide volunteer lake monitoring programs?


In Maine, volunteer lake monitors were involved informally with the state DEP starting 1971. In 1974 the program formalized into the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program.

We use the “one of the oldest…” line.

Jim Roby-Brantley

Program Assistant
Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program
24 Maple Hill Road
Auburn, Maine 04210

207 783-7733