Environmental Review Toolkit
Water, Wetlands, and Wildlife


Guidance Manual for Monitoring Highway Runoff Water Quality

Report No. FHWA- EP-01-022

March 2001

Federal Highway Administration
Office of Natural Environment

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This report provides guidance for selecting and using stormwater runoff monitoring equipment for monitoring of highway runoff. This report will be of interest to engineers and scientists who are responsible for stormwater monitoring.

Office of Natural Environment
Planning and Environment (Core Business Unit)


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The United States Government assumes no liability for its contents or use thereof.

The contents of this report reflect the views of the contractor who is responsible for the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the Department of Transportation.

This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The United States Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturers' names appear herein only because they are considered essential to the object of this document.


The authors, Eric Strecker (GeoSyntec Consultants), Lynn Mayo (URS Group, Inc.), Marcus Quigley (GeoSyntec Consultants), and Jim Howell (GeoSyntec Consultants), would like to thank Howard Jongedyk, Fred Bank, and Patricia Cazenas of the Federal Highway Administration for their support and thorough review of this guidance. The authors would also like to thank Marshall Jennings (retired) and David Owens of the United States Geological Survey for review of this guidance and their active role in associated projects assessing monitoring equipment field functionality presented in this manual. The extensive fieldwork conducted by Mike Ianelli (URS Group, Inc.) and Mark Boyko (URS Group, Inc.) provided a solid foundation for the development of this manual. Project input provided by Dale Lehman (URS Group, Inc.) Peter Mangarella (GeoSyntec Consultants), Mike Stenstrom (UCLA), and Gene Driscoll contributed to the parent project on which this guidance is based.

Sections of this document are based upon work originally authored by Mike Milne (URS Group, Inc.), Eric Strecker (GeoSyntec Consultants), Terry Cook (URS Group, Inc.), Gail Boyd (URS Group, Inc.), Krista Reininga (URS Group, Inc.), and Lynn Krasnow for the Washington State Department of Ecology's (DOE) November 1995, "Stormwater Monitoring Guidance Manual". The thoroughness and specific insight provided in the DOE Manual were instrumental in assembling this updated guidance.


1.1 Scope

This document provides guidance for selecting and using stormwater runoff monitoring equipment for the monitoring of highway runoff. The guidance provided is intended to help achieve stormwater monitoring program goals through the collection of more useful and representative rainfall, flow, and water quality information. Ultimately it is intended to improve monitoring information that will lead to better decision-making with respect to highway runoff management.

The guidance contained should not be regarded as a rule, requirement, or regulation. It should be used to provide insight into strategies, approaches, and techniques that are appropriate and useful for monitoring the water column within highway stormwater conveyance systems. Experience and knowledge of local conditions should always be considered when applying this guidance.

This document addresses equipment and methods that were readily available at the time it was written. As the state of the art is continuously progressing, more sensitive devices and equipment based on new technologies will likely become available. Although the technology may change somewhat from the equipment described, most of the basic flow and water quality monitoring methods discussed in this document have a long history of use and will most likely remain viable even as new and different technologies emerge.

This manual focuses on water quantity and quality measurement and therefore does not address in detail sediment sampling methods and techniques, biological assessment, monitoring of receiving waters, monitoring of groundwater, streambank erosion, channel instability, channel morphology, and a variety of other useful activities that in many circumstances may be as, or even more, useful than measuring and monitoring water quality for assessing impacts of highway runoff.

1.2 Format of This Document

This document is broken down into six main sections following this introduction:

  • Section 2 provides a detailed look at stormwater monitoring programs as they apply to the highway environment.
  • Section 3 discusses some of the considerations that go into selecting monitoring equipment within a monitoring program.
  • Section 4 presents detailed information about each type of monitoring equipment.
  • Section 5 provides general guidance on installation of monitoring equipment.
  • Section 6 provides information on parameters and analytical methods and their relationship to equipment selection.
  • Section 7 describes health and safety issues related to conducting stormwater monitoring and its implications for equipment selection.

In addition, three appendices have been included in this guidance document. The first, Appendix A provides detailed information on methods for data analysis, which is important to consider prior to selecting monitoring equipment. The second, Appendix B is a sample Health and Safety Plan for conducting monitoring activities. The final, Appendix C is a sample standard operating procedures document that was used for conducting work used to provide data to support the information included in this manual.

1.3. Context within a Stormwater Quality Monitoring Plan

This guidance addresses the selection of monitoring equipment within the larger context of an existing or concurrently developed Stormwater Quality Monitoring Plan and/or Implementation Program. In order to provide a basis for the equipment selection decision-making process, Section 2 of this guidance expounds upon the relationship between setting and achieving monitoring program goals and monitoring methodology and equipment.

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Questions and feedback should be directed to Susan Jones (Susan.Jones@dot.gov, 202-493-2139) and Marcel Tchaou (Marcel.Tchaou@dot.gov, 202-366-4196)

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