Learning Water Quality Basics
What is the point monitoring water quality, who does it and how is it done?

With a Nonpoint Source Protection grant from the PA Association of Conservation Districts, and in partnership with the Lower Chartiers Watershed Association, we spent a morning with Allegheny Watershed Alliance exploring these topics with local residents.


Lower Chartiers residents test water quality at Upper St. Clair's Community & Recreation Center

Why Monitor?
Monitoring is useful for many reasons.

Baseline Monitoring
Establish what is ‘normal’ for a stream. Think of this as the routine check-up you receive from a doctor. This enables us to identify if there are any issues or improvements.

For Pre and Post Activities
Understanding conditions before a change- be it positive, like a restoration project, or negative, like a pollution event- is very valuable. This can help to promote more of the positive or put a stop to the negative.

Identify potential project locations
What to put where? It is often necessary to have a fuller picture of a watershed to select the appropriate place for a project, like an abandoned mine drainage treatment system.

Fill gaps in knowledge
The majority of streams in Allegheny County are not routinely monitored, some may have been monitored in the past, and some may have never been monitored.

Raise awareness
Our local streams range from highly impaired to places of outstanding beauty. Every stream is in need of improvement and protection; having the facts to support our streams is critical.


Water quality monitoring ranges from highly involved protocols with numerous tests to very simple measures that can be completed with a few tools. There are many methods to monitoring, and each method is valuable in increasing the baseline knowledge and connection to our streams and rivers. Monitoring is also fun!

Connect with us if you would like to learn more about water quality monitoring or would like to get involved with a watershed group in the area.