Successful environmental/water quality-monitoring programs usually require a balance between analytical capabilities, the collection and preservation of representative samples, and available financial/personnel resources. Due to current economic conditions, monitoring programs are under increasing pressure to do more with less. Hence, a review of current sampling and analytical methodologies, and some of the underlying assumptions that form the bases for these programs seems appropriate, to see if they are achieving their intended objectives within acceptable error limits and/or measurement uncertainty, in a cost-effective manner. That evaluation appears to indicate that several common sampling/processing/analytical procedures (e.g., dip (point) samples/measurements, nitrogen determinations, total recoverable analytical procedures) are generating biased or nonrepresentative data, and that some of the underlying assumptions relative to current programs, such as calendar-based sampling and stationarity are no longer defensible. The extensive use of statistical models as well as surrogates (e.g., turbidity) also needs to be re-examined because the hydrologic interrelationships that support their use tend to be dynamic rather than static. As a result, a number of monitoring programs may need redesigning, some sampling and analytical procedures may need to be updated, and model/surrogate interrelationships may require recalibration.
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A review of selected inorganic surface water quality-monitoring practices: are we really measuring what we think, and if so, are we doing it right?