Citizen-based water monitoring data properly collected and managed is the most cost-effective diagnostic information for watersheds. Though citizen monitors typically measure fewer water variables than governmental agencies or research teams, their data have the advantage of being collected at multiple sites over a long period. In remote watersheds that are difficult and expensive for professionals to sample, citizen data may be the only information available. These data are often used to educate residents about ways to preserve and improve environmental quality and is a valuable component of various approaches to watershed management.
The Global Water Watch monitoring data has public access and may be searched by such variables as: monitoring group, monitoring site, watershed or county. Scores of possibilities are available for graphing water quality variables. Analytical features include lines or color-coding on graphs to show water quality standards and statistically based trend lines that indicate improvement or degradation of a waterbody. The database provides additional tools to certified monitors. Using a password, such monitors may enter their water data online. These tools are useful for helping monitors and others understand and interpret the data, as well as for presenting data to a variety of audiences.