National Park Service

Eastern Rivers and Mountains Network (ERMN)

River Water Quality Monitoring

New River, winding through New River Gorge NR
Sunset on the East Branch of the Delaware River, Upper Delaware SRR

Protocol Documents

Summary Reports

Vital Signs

Water Quality


There are approximately 211 miles of rivers and more than 425 miles of streams throughout the ERMN. The importance of water resources is reflected by the network's ranking of benthic macroinvertebrates (BMI), river and stream hydrology, and water quality as 3 of the top 4 vital signs.

Physical and chemical characteristics of water have strong effects on aquatic biota; consequently, direct and indirect human alteration of river water quality is associated with altered biotic communities and ecosystem processes. Because of the direct relationship between water chemistry and biota, the ERMN monitors "core" water quality parameters (temperature, conductivity, pH, and dissolved oxygen) and turbidity that are critical to understanding baseline conditions in aquatic habitats.

Monitoring Effort

Bluestone NSR, Delaware Water Gap NRA, Gauley River NRA, New River Gorge NR, Upper Delaware SRR

The ERMN is cooperating with stakeholders (i.e., parks and the USGS) to prioritize sampling locations and then install continuous multiparameter water quality monitoring units (aka, multiprobes or datasondes) on large rivers throughout the ERMN. At a minimum, the ERMN intends to install and maintain multiprobes in the large rivers at the downstream terminus of every park listed above.

Monitoring Objectives

Determine the status and trends of and water quality in large, mainstem ERMN rivers by way of continuous (i.e., hourly) measurement of core water quality parameters (i.e., dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, conductivity) and turbidity.

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster