Watershed-based sampling design and assessment tools help serve the multiple goals for water quality monitoring required under the Clean Water Act, including assessment of regional conditions to meet Section 305(b), identification of impaired water bodies or watersheds to meet Section 303(d), and development of empirical relationships between causes or sources of impairment and biological responses. Creation of GIS databases for hydrography, hydrologically corrected digital elevation models, and hydrologic derivatives such as watershed boundaries and upstream-downstream topology of subcatchments would provide a consistent seamless nationwide framework for these designs. The elements of a watershed-based sample framework can be represented either as a continuous infinite set defined by points along a linear stream network, or as a discrete set of watershed polygons. Watershed-based designs can be developed with existing probabilistic survey methods, including the use of unequal probability weighting, stratification, and two-stage frames for sampling. Case studies for monitoring of Atlantic Coastal Plain streams, West Virginia wadeable streams, and coastal Oregon streams illustrate three different approaches for selecting sites for watershed-based survey designs. ?? Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005.