trends and further our scientific understanding of the why and how behind water quality status and trends. All three goals are a major part of the grand design of NAWQA and are central to the charge that policy makers have placed on NAWQA since its pilot-scale origins in the 1980s. Indeed, if there are substantive “opportunities to improve NAWQA,” this is the ideal time to do so—when the future of NAWQA is now. Thus, the committee hopes that the timing of this report can contribute to the future of NAWQA—a future that has clearly become of widespread importance to the nation.
As discussed in Chapter 1, in concert with NAWQA leadership, the committee was asked to spend considerable time considering and discussing NAWQA Planning Team (NPT) and NAWQA Cycle II Implementation Team (NIT) planning documents and guidance reports.1 This ultimately became the crux of the committee’s focus. While the statement of task includes four particular issues (defined below), the committee decided early in the study that the operational and organizational theme for the report had to reflect the broadest charge of the statement of task—to “provide guidance to the U.S. Geological Survey [USGS] on opportunities to improve the NAWQA program.” (The first component of the statement of task—to provide an initial assessment of the program’s general accomplishments to date—is covered in Chapter 1.) In this regard, many of the conclusions and recommendations of this report go beyond those implied by a strict reading of the statement of task. Furthermore, in presenting such a comprehensive programmatic overview, the committee deemed it necessary to make some general comments about budgets and resources where pertinent to the scope of the proposed changes and additions to the NAWQA program.
It is important to state that the four particular statement-of-task issues are intermixed throughout the NIT plans and guidance for Cycle II, and these plans are also organized around the three major goals of NAWQA. To try to ensure its greatest utility, the committee organized much of this report around the same structure as that used in the NAWQA planning and implementation documents for Cycle II and has addressed those four particular issues in various, appropriate places throughout the report. Thus, the report’s organization is essentially a blend of the NAWQA implementation plans for Cycle II and the committee’s statement of task. The committee feels that this organization is both functional and logical so that the report can more directly address issues raised in NIT guidance reports.
In this chapter, the committee puts the report’s findings in a broad context that includes three major components. First are the four particular issues from the statement of task and how the committee specifically addressed them throughout the report. The second component includes some of the broader concerns and conclusions throughout the report regarding the future of NAWQA. Last is the