2014 NWQMC Takeaway – The Industry is Moving to Continuous Monitoring

Water monitoring, Hydrology, Water data management software, Rating curve, Stage discharge curve

Day 2 of the National Water Quality Monitoring Conference in Cincinnati, OH was an interesting day of presentations. The rest of the week appears to be just as fascinating. It has been great reconnecting with old peers, making new connections, and listening to the presentations on some very thought-provoking projects. The passion for water resources expressed by this year’s attendees inspires me, and I think in some way recharges my own passion for water resources.

This year’s NWQMC conference has given me a perspective of the continuous data industry that I never really considered, and wanted to share. In an opening session on Tuesday, April 29, one presenter mentioned that in 2006, the NWQMC had only a “limited number of sessions dedicated to continuous water quality monitoring.” This year there are 2 ½ days of discussions around continuous monitoring.

The take away message: the industry is moving toward continuous monitoring.

This is not to say that traditional water quality monitoring methods are going away, but that there are now more tools in the toolbox than ever before. I wonder where the industry will be in another eight years … and what new tools will be available to water resources professionals worldwide?

One presentation after another spoke to the need for the thoughtful implementation of continuous monitoring and about the need to collaborate, to develop common standards, protocols, and methods to produce data of a known quality, and to be willing to “make it happen” in the continuous monitoring domain. There were great presentations about the balance of policy, budget, and data needs and about what continuous monitoring can do for our programs.

Even more inspiring are the sessions and discussions happening around data quality, uncertainty, and private-public partnerships that are moving the industry forward through continued collaboration. Collaboration has been mentioned over and over as the key to the future of continuous monitoring. New technologies are appearing and “new” realized uses of continuous monitoring are starting to appear in the industry. Continuous water quality hardware and software are being used for regulatory monitoring, water quality standards development, carbon loading, and even to develop new insights into groundwater nutrient loading. All while the industry continues to develop new operational guidance and record computation techniques.

It is an exciting time in the industry…and there are two more days of sessions that I’m sure will continue to inspire me as well as others.

See you on the water,
Dave

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