The 3 Levels of Credible Data
The law and the administrative regulations are the basis for establishing three broad categories or levels of data that will be deemed “credible” for distinctly different purposes. The overall premise is that there must be an increasing level of scientific rigor behind the sampling and analytical work as we progress from Level 1 to Level 2 to Level 3.
Level 1 was designed with educators in mind and may be appropriate for Soil & Water Conservation Districts, Park Districts, Health Departments, or anyone with an interest in Ohio water quality. The purpose of Level 1 is primarily to promote public awareness and education about surface waters of the state.
Level 2 was designed with watershed groups in mind. Level 2 data can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of pollution controls, to conduct initial screening of water quality conditions, and to promote public awareness and education about surface waters of the state. Level 2 groups are often in the position to perform the valuable function of monitoring long term surface water quality trends in a watershed (where Ohio EPA may not have the resources to frequently revisit a particular area).
Level 3 provides the highest level of scientific rigor and methods are equivalent to those used by Ohio EPA personnel. The law limits the Director’s use of data collected under the credible data program for certain regulatory applications (for example, setting water quality standards and evaluating attainment of those standards) to just verified Level 3 data. In other words, data submitted under this program as Level 1 and Level 2 data cannot be used for those regulatory purposes.