Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Protecting Alaska's Cook Inlet watershed and the life it sustains since 1995.
Sign up for email updates
You are here: Home Clean Water Citizen Monitoring CEMP Program Resources

CEMP Program Resources

On this page you will find more background on the details of our CEMP, as well as important documents that we used to guide us in our efforts.

Baseline Water Quality

What are Baseline Data?

A baseline is defined as historical or reference information from which new data can be measured or compared. The Citizens’ Environmental Monitoring Program collected baseline water quality data to better understand our current environment in a changing world. Population growth, increased development, and climate change are some of the catalysts for change which can alter the quality of our waterbodies. By collecting baseline data, we can track those changes and make better decisions to protect water quality for future generations. We use the following as guidelines for defining a baseline dataset:

  • 5+ years of data with at least 80 site visits
  • At least 40 site visits during summer months
  • At least 5 site visits during every month of the year that the site was monitored
  • 3 years of continuous temperature monitoring (at select sites)
  • 6 bioassessment sampling events over at least 3 years (at select sites)


These guidelines for a baseline dataset come from a statistical analysis report on the CEMP, released in 2003. This report found that CEMP was meeting the goals and standards set for state-wide and national monitoring programs, and that there is enough citizen-collected data to provide information to help understand and protect water quality.  You can read the 2003 effectiveness report here.

Quality Assurance

In accordance with the Quality Assurance Project Plan, many quality assurance and quality control measures were taken to confirm the volunteer collected data (CIK 2002). These measures include:

  • Training: Volunteers were required to complete Phase I through III of training to be eligible to collect data for CEMP. Phase I is an introduction to the watershed concept and monitoring procedures. Phase II is designed to teach the volunteers to use the monitoring kits and equipment. This phase involves both laboratory and field training. Phase III is an on-site training at stream sites. Volunteers began monitoring on their own after successful completion of Phases I-III. Volunteer monitors were also required to attend an annual re-certification (Phase IV) training where they analyzed blind performance evaluation standards and reviewed monitoring procedures. Volunteers had to complete a separate training in order to participate in biological monitoring. Trainings were offered once a year by the Program Coordinator, who was been trained by University of Alaska Anchorage Environmental and Natural Resources Institute certified trainers.
  • Data Quality Objectives: Volunteer monitors performed analysis on duplicate samples during each site visit. Replicate measurements were also taken for samples analyzed in the lab. Measurements were required to meet predetermined data quality objectives for sensitivity, precision, and accuracy. The Program Coordinator headed into the field for side-by-side samplings at 10-20% of the sites every year. Split samples were also collected at 10-20% of the active sites per year - these were sent to a state-certified lab for analysis to compare to volunteer-collected results. Data quality objectives for Inletkeeper's CEMP conformed with those of the CEMP Partnership, and can be found here.

CEMP Documents

Volunteer Training Manual, 2009 (please email Inletkeeper for a copy of this document)

Inletkeeper Training Presentation, 2010

Volunteer Field Procedures Manual, 2011

Water Quality Data Collection Datasheet, 2011

CEMP Effectiveness Report, 2003

All Annual CEMP Reports, Baseline Reports, and other CEMP publications can be found here.