Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI)

What is the QHEI

The Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) was developed at Ohio EPA in the 1980's as a habitat assessment to accompany the bioassessments conducted in streams and rivers throughout Ohio. Since then it has been widely used by numerous state and local organizations as a qualitative habitat assessment done in combination with fish assemblage assessments. The QHEI can be used as an independent method to assess stream habitat, making it an ideal tool that is easily applied in a wide range of biological assessments. The focus is on the use of the QHEI to assess stream habitat for specific purposes such as stream mitigation, use attainability determinations, and assessing the effectiveness of stream restoration projects. It fulfills the training required for those who are pursuing Level 2 or 3 Qualified Data Collector status under the Ohio Credible Data Program.

Day One: Introduction to the QHEI Classroom Instruction

Includes a detailed overview of the QHEI, and an overview of the Ohio Water Quality Standards (WQS) and Biocriteria and their relationship to the QHEI. An overview of the Ohio Credible Data Program and an explanation of how to pursue Qualified Data Collector (QDC) status is also included.

Day Two: QHEI Field Training

Consists of completing QHEIs at 3-4 stream sites. Level 2 testing is completed at the last site visited and the results are graded by MBI.

Recommended Background

Trainees should be generally familiar with the biological, chemical, and physical characteristics of streams and rivers and have prior field experience.


This course will provide trainees with the knowledge needed to complete the in-class testing by MBI to obtain Level 2 QDC status. Trainees will be informed about their test results and upon receiving a passing grade can then apply to Ohio EPA for their Level 2 QDC certification.  Trainees who wish to pursue Level 3 QDC status will need to complete post-training testing at additional sites and submit the results directly to Ohio EPA for grading. The Level 3 testing and QDC correspondence is handled by Ohio EPA.