What good is data if it never gets used? The Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative (CMC) is here to make sure that doesn’t happen! While the CMC’s goal is to connect data collected from community monitoring and non-traditional partners into state and federal programs, it is important to highlight the impact of this work on the local level. Each group within the CMC network is monitoring to achieve their own unique and individual goals for education, advocacy, outreach, and communication and have made enormous impacts on their communities.

The CMC recently released a series of case studies to communicate the incredible work volunteers and partner organizations are doing to use monitoring data to achieve improvements in water quality and environmental conditions on a local scale. Data has been used to detect problems and affect changes in wastewater management, determine if stream restoration is a viable restoration practice, and detect, identify, and remedy contamination issues.


Kreutz Creek, York County, PA

Kreutz Creek is part of a small watershed in York County, PA and eventually flows into the Susquehanna River. ALLARM’s Stream Team collects baseline water quality data here on a monthly basis. During routine monitoring, one of the volunteers discovered an unusual brownish-red discharge in the creek, which turned out to be a local landfill that was in violation of their discharge standards. The landfill is currently constructing a new water treatment facility to achieve compliance with the standards, and monitoring continues to track progress.

A person crouching in a shallow creek, smiling at the camera

A volunteer waiting for the temperature and specific conductivity probe to stabilize. Photo Credit: Cindy Pizziketti


Blue Water Baltimore, Baltimore, MD

Blue Water Baltimore (BWB) began monitoring in 2010 as a way to ensure that Baltimore’s waterways are healthy, safe, and clean. They have a robust baseline dataset encompassing 49 stations in streams and rivers flowing into the Patapsco River. BWB conducts routine sampling for Enterococcus bacteria (fecal indicator bacteria) which led to identifying violations in the Clean Water Act discharge limits for the Patapsco and Back River Wastewater Treatment Plants. Both treatment plants are working towards meeting their effluent limits (waste discharged into the river) and BWB is continuing to track the water quality progress.

An aerial view of a wastewater treatment plant

The Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant. Photo credit: Jonathan Kellogg (UMCES)


Taylor’s Run, Alexandria, VA

Taylor’s Run is a stream located in Alexandria, VA that flows into the Potomac River. In 2019, the City of Alexandria determined that a stream restoration should be conducted on Taylor’s Run. The North Ridge Citizens’ Association conducted a stream study above and below the proposed restoration site to determine current water quality impacts. They presented their findings to the City Council and proposed alternative projects that could help the City satisfy their nutrient reduction goals.

Two people sitting at the opening of a drainage pipe, sampling water

Volunteers with North Ridge Citizens’ Association sampling at a drainage pipe. Photo credit: Bill Gillespie


Jordan’s Branch, Henrico, VA

Jordan’s Branch is a small tributary that feeds into the Chickahominy River, located on the border of Henrico County and the City of Richmond, Virginia. The Henrico Area Water Quality Samplers (HAWQS) Coordinator noticed E.coli levels increasing over a two-month period from samples collected in the area. This prompted the County to take additional lab-analyzed samples, which confirmed a local dog boarding facility as the source of contamination. The County was able to work with the business to remedy the issue and monitoring continues to track progress.

A person crouched next to a creek placing a pole into the water

A volunteer collecting a water sample for the James River Association to analyze E.coli using the IDEXX Colilert system.

These stories are important for highlighting the power of having a robust baseline dataset and boots on the ground to identify changes to the environment. When you have data to compare to, it makes identifying the specific issues and advocating for change much easier!

To see the full case studies and download sharable PDFs visit the CMC Case Studies page. If you have a local data use case study, please submit it to the CMC team here!