Stream and Harbor Sampling

The Environmental Compliance and Laboratory Services Division of the Bureau of Water and Wastewater is responsible for monitoring the quality of the streams and Harbor in the City of Baltimore.  This is called Stream Impact Sampling (SIS). A summary of the various monitoring programs are provided below.

Stream Impact Sampling (SIS)

The Stream Impact Sampling (SIS) program is a comprehensive water quality monitoring effort designed to document chemical analyses of city streams over long spans of time. Each of the 33 sampling locations are visited once a month and laboratory analysis is performed on the samples for the following parameters:

Metals Nutrients & Sediment Biologic (Bacteria) Other Water Quality Indicators
Chromium, Dissolved *Chromium, Total*Copper, Dissolved**Copper, TotalLead, Dissolved**Lead, Total

Zinc, Dissolved**

Zinc, Total

Nitrate+Nitrite NitrogenTotal Kjeldahl NitrogenTotal PhosphorusTotal Suspended Solids E. coliEnterococcous Chemical Oxygen DemandChlorideFluorideHardness, TotalSodium***
* Harbor samples only**Three samples per year at most stations***Limited stations only

Historic data for the SIS Program are available on-line.   The purpose of this program is to evaluate the quality of our surface waters for any long-term trends and determine any capital investment programs or operational programs to implement.  The results may be affected by a variety of factors: precipitation, land use changes, and human behavior. Click HERE for a map of the Ammonia Sampling and Stream Impact Sampling locations.

Ammonia Screening
Ammonia screening (AS) is a water quality monitoring program designed to rapidly identify potential pollutants with the intent to initiate pollution source tracking (PST). The results of the AS program have identified sanitary discharges, drinking water system leaks, and chemical spills.  Each of the 47 sampling locations visited on a weekly basis and all chemical analyses are performed in the field. YSI water quality sondes are used for water temperature, dissolved oxygen, specific conductivity, and pH – all indicators of the health of a stream. Hach portable spectrophotometers are used for nitrogen-ammonia and chlorine analysis. Historic sampling data for the AS Program are available on-line.  The AS program is an alternative methodology to the prescribed sampling listed in the City’s NPDES MS4 Permit for Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE).

Wet Weather Stormwater sampling occurs approximately 8 to 12 times per year at four of the SIS sampling locations. Samples are extracted from the streams during rain events by ISCO 6712 portable automated water samplers. These samples are then analyzed for many of the same parameters as the SIS program. Two of the storm stations are a requirement of the City’s NPDES MS4 permit for watershed assessment – chemical monitoring. The results of this sampling program are available in the Annual MS4 Compliance Report.

Biological Monitoring
Biological monitoring program consists of the collection and analysis of benthic macroinvertebrates and other field parameters to determine stream conditions in the City’s three major watersheds. The watersheds are the Gwynns Falls, the Jones Falls, and Back River. Sampling for each watershed occurs every spring on a rotating basis. The City’s program is based on Maryland Biological Stream Survey protocols developed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The results of this sampling program are available in the Annual MS4 Compliance Report