A wide variety of sampling programmes may now be considered practical with the recent developments in data logger and water sampler technology. In ephemeral systems the water sampler remains idle for long periods between events. Two approaches are described which overcome the problems of sampling in ephemeral systems: short interval time dependent sampling (TDS) and automated flow proportional sampling (FPS). Both approaches utilize the data logger's ability to perform intermediate operations on incoming data to control the initiation of water sampling. The logger programs are described and allow many recorder/water sampler units to be controlled from one device. The relative merits of the two approaches are discussed in terms of experimental requirements and data precision.