Field assessment procedures
Make sure your assessors have landowners' permission before they work on private property. Landowner information is available from county clerks, property assessors, neighbors and other knowledgeable local people. This also allows the collection of information from each landowner, who can often direct field volunteers to sites that require investigation. Interest and support from landowners will be needed if treatment needs to occur on their property.
Since some field sites will be remote, field workers should make sure that other people know exactly where they are going and when they expect to return. Investigators should always travel in pairs and should be in fairly good health for the physically demanding task they will be performing. If water samples are to be taken downstream from houses with questionable septic systems, plastic or rubber gloves, antiseptic towelettes, and a hepatitis shot are advisable. Make sure volunteers are advised to never drink water from streams, springs or other untreated sources in the field. Drinking water from a reliable source should be brought into the field in canteens or jugs.
Keep Your Data Organized
As information becomes available from these and other sources, it will be important to keep it organized. Subdividing the watershed into smaller units (subwatersheds, or the drainage areas of smaller feeder streams) will allow for easy processing and storage of information. Chart information collected on maps, labeled with file numbers of pertinent information at specific sites. For example, a map for the Mill Creek subwatershed might pinpoint a site as "AMD Source #12," which would correspond with a file folder (Mill Creek #12) which contains documented site information and water test results for that particular location. Organizing your watershed assessment in this manner will help to keep all your information in an easy-to-use format.
Before going to each site, know what tests are to be done.
Check to make sure that all the needed materials are available and all of the
participants understand the testing procedures. It may be a good idea to
have a separate training session for volunteers or to invite a professional with
a group of the relatively inexperienced volunteers. Many agencies are more
than happy to provide professionals with experience in watershed assessment to
help groups to assess their watershed.