One of the main purposes in setting up a volunteer monitoring program is to get more eyes out into the watershed to see what is going on, in other words, to collect data. Volunteer Monitoring promotes a strong sense of stewardship. It is also helpful in gathering data on waterbodies that are currently not assessed by the Department or waterbodies where data users need more water quality information. Whether that data is used by volunteers at the local level to provide information to their municipality, at the watershed level to identify or follow-up on problem areas in need of attention, at the State level to identify impaired waterways or in a study to provide baseline information, it needs to be consistent and structured so that the people using it can easily understand it and compare data from different sites.
The NJDEP Volunteer Monitoring Program is in the process of creating an easy-to-use visual assessment protocol specifically designed for tidal streams, estuaries and bays. In the meantime, this pdf available for download is the latest version of the US EPA volunteer manual for estuaries. This is a great resource for you to review when designing and implementing your own monitoring program. Stay tuned for more updates to the site.
US EPA Volunteer Estuary Monitoring Manual