MMW - Standard Operating Procedures

Standard Operating Procedures

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

In order to collect scientifically credible data, standardized methods must be followed. Following the same methodology as water quality professionals in Montana ensures errors are not made and that data are accurate. Having completed standard operating procedures (SOPs) and sampling and analysis plans (SAPs) ensures that groups collect the types of samples needed and that the correct methods are used. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) uses standard operating procedures listed in their Water Resource Monitoring Methods Selection Guide (MMSG). By following these approved DEQ methods, data collected by citizen-led sampling efforts can be stored and used by FLBS and DEQ in their respective databases, and ensures that data are of sufficient quality to be used for management efforts.

Most of the analytes that are included in monitoring plans are chemical constituents collected in water samples. Monitoring these analytes provides a general picture of watershed health and abnormal values can indicate a water quality problem. Though the sample collection procedures are the same for many analytes, the sample holding times and preservation methods can vary so it is important for watershed groups to know the details for each analyte of interest. Other analytes, like chlorophyll-a, require unique equipment and have specific procedures to follow during sample collection and storage. The most important thing for sample collection is for groups to be familiar with all procedures and equipment before going into the field. All methods listed in this document come from the MMSG, mostly in original form. Detailed methods for additional variables of interest (e.g. riparian vegetation surveys, substrate surveys) can be found in the MMSG document listed on the MT DEQ Monitoring Water Quality website under Volunteer Monitoring.

Our Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) include detailed steps for collecting unfiltered and filtered water chemistry samples, cholorphyll-a, use of multimeter instruments, and measuring stream discharge. The appendix contains a table with examples of holding times and a table with an example of analytes, associated types of sampling containers and preservation method.