Science Centers, and the close ties between the BRD Science Centers and other federal agencies and between the WRD Science Centers and state and local agencies. These coordination efforts should work closely with programs within the USGS’s Geography Discipline to build on the wealth of existing mapping capabilities. They should also build on the consistent data collection standards, mapping, and national synthesis strengths of the USGS.
Overall, the current fragmented nature of the USGS’s approach to river science needs organization and focus. Any managerial approach that addresses river science must be born of an institutional culture that fosters integrative cooperative research. An initiative that contributes fully to regional and national needs will require interdisciplinary research teams that, if not housed together, are regularly brought together to plan, direct, and execute USGS river science activities.
Recommendation: The USGS should employ innovative managerial approaches to combine the best elements of existing Water and Biological Resources river programs and other USGS programs, and refocus a portion of existing research and field team efforts on examining and answering nationally important river science questions.
Overall, society’s linkages to rivers run deep and these linkages—from agriculture to transportation and from water supply to recreation—drive a broad need for advances in river science. The USGS, by virtue of its unique strengths among the many actors in river science, has an important part to play in meeting this need. By showing leadership in monitoring, modeling, surveying, synthesizing, and data management—concerning topics such as environmental flows, behavior of sediment, and groundwater and surface-water interactions—the USGS can contribute a great deal toward answering some of the most difficult and interdisciplinary questions involving rivers. Wise application of the knowledge gained will lead to better, more informed policy and management decisions throughout the nation.