In 2004, Anne Arundel County initiated a County-wide Aquatic Biological Monitoring Program. Biological assessments are a highly effective approach to understanding the overall health and quality of streams. Therefore, biological responses are very useful for indicating changes in overall stream ecosystem health. In other words, by observing shifts in biological assemblages from their natural conditions we can detect impairment in stream ecosystems.
A comprehensive biological monitoring program, however, is not designed to replace surface water monitoring or physical habitat assessment. Rather, this program is designed to augment those assessments. Combining the results of biological, chemical, and physical habitat assessment provides more comprehensive insight into the potential sources of impairment, allowing for prioritized implementation of more detailed, diagnostic investigations and restoration projects.
The primary goals of the County’s program are to assess the status of the biological stream resources of Anne Arundel County and to establish a baseline for comparing future assessments, to track the status and trends of the biological stream resources, and to relate them to specific programmatic activities.
The County program is based upon the Maryland DNR MBSS program
, scaled down to a County level. The program is structured such that all major watersheds of the County are sampled in a 5-year period or Round, using a rotating basin design. In a rotating basin design, a subset of watersheds is assessed each year, which rotate annually until all of the watersheds in the county are sampled. Sampling locations within each subwatershed are pre-determined using a probability-based stratified random sampling design. Please review the program design document and other quality assurance documents for additional information describing the Countywide Aquatic Biological Monitoring Program design.
The first 5-year monitoring period, called Round 1, was completed in 2008. The second 5-year monitoring period, called Round 2, was initiated in 2009 and completed in 2013. The complete collection of yearly summary reports for Round 1 and Round 2 are available for download.
Reports for each individual sampling year contain descriptions of the individual watershed areas sampled in that year as well as detailed descriptions of monitoring sites assessed.
Aquatic biological monitoring data are shared between State and County entities to provide a holistic picture of ecosystem health in the County. Additionally, these data are utilized in the County's Watershed Protection and Restoration Program
for assessment of stream health during ongoing watershed study and restoration assessments. County-wide biological monitoring data is also shared with the State to demonstrate compliance with the County's NPDES MS-4 Permit