Water Quality Monitoring

water quality monitoring in the Gulf Coast
Waterbody along the Natchez Trace Parkway


Water resources in Gulf Coast Network parks are essential elements to the park and the surrounding community. Water bodies range from unnamed tributaries to nationally significant waters that are the heart of the parks. Some provide no habitat for aquatic species, while some are home to threatened or endangered species, and all of them contribute to the scenery and viewscape at national parks.

Because the resources vary in each park, and the management goals for those water bodies also differ, each park in the network has a custom water-quality monitoring program. These monitoring plans are designed to protect those water resources in the best way possible while serving the the needs of park management.

Goals of the program include:

  • Making sure the water resources are meeting designated use water-quality requirements
  • Providing data to help determine pollution sources
  • Determing how park activities are affecting water resources

For more information, see the Water Quality Monitoring Program for the Inland Parks of the Gulf Coast Network (Meiman 2006).

A summary of the vital sign and monitoring approach can also be found in the 2-page brief: Water Quality Monitoring Program Summary.

five images showing a range of methods for collecting water quality data
From left to right: two crew members measuring water quality at the stream side; an unmanned station in the waters of Padre Island National Seashore for collecting continuous water quality with autonomous data sondes; a crew member collecting a hand grab of water for lab analysis; a crew member on a boat trip to collect water quality samples and; a crew member deploying a continuous data sonde underwater at Gulf Islands National Seashore


Source: Data Store Saved Search 572. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 574. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Small bayou with bald cypress trees
Small bayou with bald cypress trees at Big Thicket National Preserve.

Joe Meiman/NPS

smooth water on the Laguna Madre with front of boat in view
Laguna Madre at Padre Island National Seashore

Joe Meiman/NPS

stepping blocks across a small stream
Stream in Rocky Springs unit of Natchez Trace Parkway

Jane Carlson/NPS

Boat-side view of a wide canal bordered by forest
Canal site for water quality monitoring in the Barataria Preserve of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

Whitney Granger/NPS

a curving shoreline on a calm, sandy beach at sunset
Shoreline at Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida


Last updated: November 10, 2023