How Ohio EPA Uses the Data Submitted
The Credible Data law defines three levels of credible data, characterizes the general purposes each level fulfills and places limitations on how Ohio EPA may use data submitted under the program. Data is reviewed when submitted and screened to ensure that the proper methods were used, that the study plan was adhered to and that all data collected under the project was in fact submitted. Once the data has been properly categorized, Ohio EPA utilizes data in the following ways.
Level 1 Data
Level 1 data is intended for educational purposes. As a regulatory agency Ohio EPA makes limited use of level 1 data. However, Ohio EPA encourages participation by level 1 Qualified Data Collectors (QDCs) and recognizes the importance of environmental education and good stewardship on the part of individual and corporate citizens.
Level 2 Data
Ohio EPA makes use of level 2 data in ways intended by the law. It may be used to evaluate trends in water quality and the relative effectiveness of pollution abatement projects after they are implemented. It typically takes many years of data collection to measure water quality changes, so level 2 data is well suited for organized watershed groups and local volunteer organizations who are committed to improving the long term health of their waters. Ohio EPA will routinely use level 2 data to gain preliminary insights into local water quality conditions when planning its own water quality survey work. In addition, the Agency will periodically assess all available level 2 data to examine the success of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)-driven pollution abatement efforts and possible regional or statewide trends in water quality.
Level 3 Data
The law is very specific in stating that data collected under the program must meet level 3 standards in order for Ohio EPA to apply the data in five different regulatory activities:
- Developing, reviewing, and revising use designations in water quality standards;
- Developing a statewide water quality inventory or other water assessment report;
- Identifying, listing, and delisting waters of the state for the purpose of section 303(d) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act;
- Determining whether a water of the state is supporting its designated use or other classification;
- Establishing a total maximum daily load for a water of the state.
In most cases Ohio EPA will use level 3 data collected by QDCs in concert with its own data to performing these regulatory tasks.