Credible Data - References

Credible Data is a program that classifies surface water monitoring performed by watershed groups, state agencies, schools, local volunteers and other organizations. Ohio EPA uses the data submitted under the program in ways prescribed by State law.

Requirements for Participation

Participation is voluntary (except as noted for Other State Agencies). The program does not require volunteer groups or local governmental organizations to participate, and the program does not impose sampling or analytical requirements on any individuals or organizations that choose not to participate. However, individuals or organizations choosing to invest in surface water monitoring work without adhering to these requirements could find that Ohio EPA's ability to make use of the data collected will be limited.

Individuals who choose to participate in the credible data program must apply for, and be granted status as, a Qualified Data Collector (QDC).

Qualified Data Collector Requirements

Level 1 QDC Requirement - Successfully completed training offered through an acceptable educational monitoring program or an acceptable volunteer monitoring program.

Level 2 QDC Requirement - See Level 2 QDC requirements summary table [PDF 10K] for the following specialties. (Note: there is no Level 2 for fish community biology.)

Stream Habitat Assessment (QHEI) OAC 3745-4-03 (3)(a)

  • Complete the Introduction to WQS/BioCriteria/QHEI training
  • Receive a passing score on a Level 2 QHEI test site

Benthic Macroinvertebrate Biology

  • Introduction to WQS/BioCriteria/QHEI training STRONGLY ENCOURAGED
  • Must pass a “Family Level” taxonomic lab practical administered by OEPA
  • Must meet all the requirements listed in OAC 3745-4-03 (3)(c)

Chemical Water Quality Assessment

  • Currently no training or testing requirement
  • Must meet all requirements listed in OAC 3745-4-03 (3)(d)

Level 3 QDC Requirement – See Level 3 QDC requirements summary table [PDF 14K] for the following specialties.

Stream Habitat Assessment (QHEI) OAC 3745-4-03 (4)(a)

  • Introduction to WQS/BioCriteria/QHEI training
  • Receive a passing score on the Level 2 QHEI test site
  • Assess and receive a passing score at three (3) additional QHEI test sites independently

Benthic Macroinvertebrate Biology

  • All categories below must meet all requirements listed in OAC 3745-4-03 (4)(d)
  • Identification only
    • HD Sample sorting provided by OEPA or approved trainer
    • Must pass Level 3 lab practical examination comprised of 25 common macroinvertebrate taxa to identify to a specified level of taxonomy (mostly to genus & species)
  • Sample Collection and Data Evaluation only
    • Introduction to WQS/BioCriteria training – successful completion of:
      • Field work: sampling site logistics, site description, HD setting & retrieval (preset HD sample), qualitative sample collection, and data recording
      • Lab analysis: instruction on HD preparation, sample collection, sample processing, sorting, sub-sampling and identification based on OEPA protocols
      • Classroom training on index calculation: overview of ICI, qualitative narrative evaluation
      • Trainee sorts HD/Qualitative samples and have those analyzed by a Level 3 macroinvertebrate identifier. Once returned, the trainee must generate their sample’s index calculation
    • Must pass a “Family Level” taxonomic lab practical administered by OEPA
  • Sample Collection, Data Evaluation, and Identification
    • Introduction to WQS/BioCriteria training – successful completion of:
      • Field work: sampling site logistics, site description, HD setting & retrieval (preset HD sample), qualitative sample collection, and data recording
      • Lab analysis: instruction on HD preparation, sample collection, sample processing, sorting, sub-sampling and identification based on OEPA protocols
      • Classroom training on index calculation: overview of ICI, qualitative narrative evaluation
    • Level 3 lab practical examination comprised of 25 common macroinvertebrate taxa to identify to a specified level of taxonomy (mostly to genus & species)

Fish Community Biology

    • Wading/Headwater only – Assessment of wading sites using long-line, backpack, or tote barge electrofishing gear
    • Boating only – Assessment of sites, using boat electrofishing gear
    • All Methods - Assessment of sites covering all sampling methods, techniques, and drainage areas
  • Must meet all requirements listed in OAC 3745-4-03 (4)(c)
  • Complete the Introduction to WQS/BioCriteria/QHEI training-successful completion of:
    • Field work: QHEI evaluation, instruction on OEPA methods, sampling site logistics, electrofishing techniques, fish sorting procedures & data recording
    • Lab analysis: data management, indices calculation, determining aquatic life use designations, DELT Anomalies & fish sampling/safety issues
  • Assessment of three (3) approved testing sites from both the Ohio River and Lake Erie drainages
    • Must submit QHEI and field collection data sheets, along with IBI and MIwb calculations/scores
  • Must pass a fish sort exercise and lab identification practical, administered by Ohio EPA or an approved trainer

Chemical Water Quality Assessment

  • Currently no training or testing requirement
  • Must meet all requirements listed in OAC 3745-4-03 (4)(e)

Also, available is a table that compares the Level 2 and Level 3 requirements.
L2 L3 comparison table [PDF 14K]