Few guidelines are currently available to assist in designing appropriate automated storm water sampling strategies for small watersheds. Therefore, guidance is needed to develop strategies that achieve an appropriate balance between accurate characterization of storm water quality and loads and limitations of budget, equipment, and personnel. In this article, we explore the important sampling strategy components (minimum flow threshold, sampling interval, and discrete versus composite sampling) and project-specific considerations (sampling goal, sampling and analysis resources, and watershed characteristics) based on personal experiences and pertinent field and analytical studies. These components and considerations are important in achieving the balance between sampling goals and limitations because they determine how and when samples are taken and the potential sampling error. Several general recommendations are made, including: setting low minimum flow thresholds, using flow-interval or variable time-interval sampling, and using composite sampling to limit the number of samples collected. Guidelines are presented to aid in selection of an appropriate sampling strategy based on user's project-specific considerations. Our experiences suggest these recommendations should allow implementation of a successful sampling strategy for most small watershed sampling projects with common sampling goals.
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Automated storm water sampling on small watersheds