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Professional External Evaluations of Rivers and Streams (PEERS)

The Professional External Evaluations of Rivers and Streams (PEERS) project partners with professional organizations outside of the DEC that are collecting biological data to assess water quality in rivers and streams. These data are useful additions to the DEC dataset and are a valuable connection to the efforts of our national, regional, and local partners.

Who Can Participate

This project is open to organizations or individuals who satisfy the criteria for professional status. Since 2012, we have partnered with regional watershed organizations, tribal governments and counties. By sharing data, we are able to initiate a collaborative process that often surpasses the value of the data alone.

The criteria for professional status are distinct for sample collection versus sample identification. The criteria for sample collection are satisfied by experience conducting professional environmental assessments. The criteria for sample identification are stricter; we require Society for Freshwater Science certification in Eastern Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4 ( - leaves DEC website). Samples collected by our partners are often processed by a contract laboratory.

Quality Assurance

Before sampling begins, each partner collaborates with the PEERS Coordinator to write a quality assurance project plan (QAPP). This is a detailed plan that describes how samples will be collected, processed, and analyzed. EPA requires a QAPP for all NYSDEC data collection. Development of a QAPP provides a valuable opportunity to discuss and agree on the specifics of the project before sampling begins.

During the sampling season, the PEERS Coordinator visits each partner at least once in the field to observe and discuss sampling technique specific to their project. This offers a second opportunity to coordinate efforts and ensure data will be valuable for all intended purposes.

The Value of PEERS Partnerships

PEERS data are valuable additions to the DEC dataset. Data are incorporated into state and federal water quality reports. They are used for ambient water quality assessments, for regulatory activities such as permit writing, compliance and enforcement, and to track long term statewide water quality trends.

In addition to the value of the data to DEC, PEERS partnerships offer valuable links to national, regional, and local water quality improvement efforts and promote professional collaboration with external groups committed to the quality of the State's waters.

How to Participate in PEERS

For more information or to join the PEERS project, please use the contact information in the right column to contact the PEERS Coordinator:

Mohawk Tribal Government staff sampling the St. Regis

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