National Park Service

San Francisco Bay Area Network (SFAN)

Water Quality Monitoring (Freshwater)

Water Flow station on Olema Creek in Point Reyes NS
Winter water quality monitoring in Point Reyes NS


Water Quality Brief

Water quality monitoring in the San Francsico Bay Area Network resource brief
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Water quality is a key indicator of the condition of aquatic resources and overall ecosystem health in the San Francisco Bay Area Network (SFAN). Freshwater quality directly impacts marine water quality, human recreation and enjoyment, riparian habitat and wetland health, and nearly all aquatic and terrestrial species. Additionally, many threatened and endangered species depend on high quality freshwater in the SFAN, such as California freshwater shrimp, coho salmon, steelhead trout, and California red-legged frogs.

The SFAN I&M Program began monitoring freshwater quality year-round in 2006, and plans to continue indefinitely. Basic parameters (such as temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and conductivity) are monitored on-site, while samples are collected for turbidity, nutrients, and bacteria. Long-term water quality monitoring helps to: thoroughly document stream conditions, create a baseline dataset that can be used to detect changes over time, assess the effects of contamination or erosion, and provide direct feedback to management actions underway in the parks. In time, we will be able to analyze freshwater quality datasets in six of the SFAN units in order to determine range, variability, and trends - and to compare these with federal and state water quality objectives.

Detailed information about rocky intertidal monitoring in SFAN parks can be found on the San Francisco Bay Area National Parks and Learning Center Water Quality webpage.

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Last Updated: November 14, 2014 Contact Webmaster