North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative

Frequently Asked Observer/Coordinator Questions

Updated June 15, 2016

Database FAQ

Q: I can’t edit my crossings in the “old” database
A: The old database (also called UMass Stream Continuity Project and accessible at is now closed to editing. If you need to edit your crossings data in that database, please ask for permission via email to

Q: What is my ID number?
A: Your ID number is assigned to you in the database. To find out what your ID number is, view your own coordinator or observer information. Your ID number will be the last two digits written in the web address field (e.g. the ID number for Marie-Françoise Hatte is 18 in image below).

Q: Can I search for two crossings at once?
A: Yes, enter the two crossing codes in the Crossing Code window, separated by commas, such as “xy1234567812345678,xy1234567812345678” (don’t put any spaces). Then when you click on “Map Results,” both crossings will show up on the map.

Q: Can I export one shapefile for assessments done using the UMASS and NAACC protocols as a combined file instead of individual shapefiles for each?
A: There is no way to export both datasets in one shapefile because the data are quite different.  But it is quite easy to merge 2 shapefiles into one file.  You can download the open source GIS software QGIS for free at  then choose Vector->Data Management Tools->Merge Shapefiles to One.

Q: I entered data in the new database but it does not show up when my colleague looks for it.
A: Records become official and visible to all only after they have been approved by your coordinator.

Q: Can a coordinator also be an observer? Can coordinators approve their own entries?
A: Yes, a coordinator can also be an observer. Coordinators can check and approve their own data entries, though they can not approve their own new crossings.

Q: Why does a crossings I entered in the database have a “-1” for Aqua Pass Score, meaning missing data, though there is no missing data?
A: You must have entered “unknown” for one or more of the values required to calculate the Aquatic Passability Score, which uses data entered for outlet drop , barriers, crossing span, inlet grade, water depth , water velocity , scour pool , substrate match , substrate continuous , openness , height , armoring and internal features.  Calculating openness requires inlet and outlet shapes and dimensions. We are working on calculating a reasonably accurate score for crossings with some missing data, so stay tuned.

Q: Is there a way to view all the records that require action by me in the database without having to go back to each email and search individually? 
A: Yes, do a search with you as the coordinator, then export to excel (detailed). You will see a field called “Approved”; all records that need to be approved will show “false”; Also there is a field called Data_Checked_Coordinator. The records that have not been checked will be blank.

Online training FAQ

Q: My OWL password is not working in the NAACC database.
A: The OWL and NAACC database passwords are not interchangeable. OWL is a UMass education program on a UMass server, but the database is on our very own server. The password creation requirements are more stringent in the NAACC database than they are in OWL. Therefore, you probably created a different password in the database. You can reset your password in the database if you have forgotten it.

Q: I can’t log onto OWL. It says my email address is not recognized.
A: To log onto OWL, you must first be registered on the NAACC database. This happens when your coordinator (or MF Hatte, if you do not work under a certified coordinator) enters your contact information in the database. So, first your contact information must be shared with your coordinator. The database and OWL update users every night, after which time you can log on to OWL.

Q: I passed the online Protocol Training and have fulfilled the other certification requirements (have attended field training and shadowed 20 assessments, or was grandfathered for both), but I can’t get into the database.
A: We must have confirmation from your coordinator that you fulfilled field training and shadowing requirements. We update this information most weekdays, and updates are sent to the database overnight. You will get an automated email from the database when you are officially certified. Until you receive this email, you won’t be able to log in to the database, though you can view data as a guest.

Crossing Survey FAQ

Q: Where are the survey forms and instructions?
You will find all of the NAACC documents at

Q: How do we determine if it’s too dry to go out; if we’re below typical low flow conditions?
A: As a general guideline we define "typical low flow" to be between the 20th and 50th percentile for flow throughout the year. In some states there may be hydrological data (e.g. StreamStats) that can be used to determine whether current flows fall within this range. Otherwise, coordinators will simply have to use their judgment keeping in mind the 20-50th percentile guideline.

Q: There is a dam spillway with a small road over it. Does that constitute a crossing?
A: If the road lies on top of the dam, then we would not consider that a crossing. However, if there is a spillway, especially a run of the river dam with a height that is passable by some species, and the road is on a bridge built over the spillway, this could be considered a crossing.

Q: How do I enter data for a crossing that is inaccessible or partially inaccessible?
A: You should choose "inaccessible" as the Crossing Type if you cannot access the crossing at all. For example, many crossings on railroads and limited access highways are completely inaccessible. The database will make no assumptions about the passability of these crossings because they were not assessed.

If you can access one side of the structure but the reason that you can't assess either an inlet or outlet is that the stream is piped or buried, then choose “buried stream” as the Crossing Type. These types of crossings receive low passability scores by default.

If the crossing is not a buried stream, but you can only access one side of it, then you need to decide whether you can make reasonable estimates about the inaccessible inlet/outlet based on the characteristics of the other end of the crossing and what you can see from the road. Sometimes it is obvious that you are dealing with a 36" round pipe that will look pretty much the same at one end as at the other (e.g. same dimensions, same substrate or lack thereof). You would then need to determine whether the view from above is sufficient to decide issues like: inlet grade, outlet drop, scour pool, tailwater armoring, and physical barriers.

If you can make reasonable estimates for all the fields, then label the crossing type as “culvert”, “multiple culvert”, or “bridge” and fill out the form with measured or estimated values. If you are not confident that reasonable estimates can be made, then label the crossing type as either “partially inaccessible” and then collect as much data as you can

Q: If an inlet or outlet is beat up and bent, should I record it as clogged/collapsed/submerged or should I choose this option only if the inlet/outlet measurements are impossible to record?
A: Choose clogged/collapsed/submerged only if it's impossible to measure the required dimentsions.

Q: If I choose clogged/collapsed/submerged because a structure is clogged or collapsed, should I also choose a debris physical barrier? Is taht not double penalizing the culvert?
A: If the condition of the inlet or outlet (clogged, collapsed or submerged) presents a physical barrier to movement then include this in your evaluation of physical barriers. It will not double count for scoring. The clogged/collapsed/submerged check box is used simply to relax validation rules (i.e., dimensions data are not required) and is not used for scoring.

Q: If a structure has internal free falls, must they cover the entire width of the structure to be recorded? If there’s a log that goes most of the distance across the culvert, but there is a portion of the culvert width with water at stream grade, should that be recorded as a free fall?
A: This is a judgement call. If the log is creating a physical barrier to passage then record it as such, either as a freefall or blockage (the type of barrier selected is not as important as the severity). If the log has no effect on passage then don't include it as a physical barrier.

Q: If a structure has internal free falls, is the barrier severity additive? There’s a picture of several logs inside a culvert with 1-3inch drops, each, on the physical barrier quiz.
A: If there are multiple physical barriers then check all the boxes that apply. Then under severity, choose the option that best represents the cumulative effect of all barriers present.

Q: If a structure has internal free falls, am I correct that you don’t temper the severity of the free falls by the kind of free falls there are in the natural stream? You use the severity rubric, and the thought is that these kinds of free falls can be more troublesome to an organism than drops in the stream up or downstream of the crossing, correct?
A: Correct  (generally). In most cases these internal freefalls are in areas of shallow water in the structure. Fish often lack sufficient water depth to be able to leap over the obstruction. However, some stream simulation culverts might have step pools built into the structure as a design feature. If the stream bed inside the structure is doing a good job of simulating conditions in the natural stream (including water depth) then any associated drops or freefalls should not be considered physical barriers.


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