BOX 1-1

Statement of Task

This study will help the USGS evaluate the relationship between Water Resources Discipline (WRD) research and information collection and dissemination activities and its overall WRD agenda. It will cover all of the major topical areas of WRD activities: groundwater and surface water, water quality and quantity issues, hydrologic hazards, water availability, water use, and aquatic ecology. Key aspects of WRD science and operation will be covered, including long-term data collection and dissemination, interpretive studies, methods development, including development of hydrologic models, and basic research. The following questions will be addressed:

  1. Where has the USGS shown leadership in water science and technology in recent years and has it successfully met its goals, as they are described in the WRD- and individual program-5-year plans?

  2. Are USGS water activities relevant to societal needs, and are they addressing emerging hydrologic issues? What are some of these emerging issues that are being addressed well and which issues are receiving too little attention?

  3. How should WRD identify priority water issues? Are there important water issues that are not adequately addressed by the current suite of WRD programs?

  4. Given the current budget climate (i.e., with limited resources), is the current content of the USGS water science portfolio appropriate? If not, what changes should be made? What areas of science should receive higher or lower priority? What is the best balance among: a) collection of long-term data, interpretive studies, methods development, information dissemination and research; and b) groundwater and surface water; water quality and quantity?

  5. Are USGS water activities well managed and conducted in a cost-effective manner? In what areas/topics is improvement possible?

  6. Are the USGS water activities engaging important stakeholder groups? Are there stakeholder groups that could be better engaged? If so, who are they and how could they be better engaged?

  7. Are USGS water activities coordinated well among other USGS programs, among federal agencies? Are there areas in which interactions and coordination could be improved?

calls for a review of both past accomplishments of the WRD as well as the health and ability of the USGS water program to accomplish its mission today and, more importantly, tomorrow. The committee provides such an evaluation of the WRD program relative to the nation’s water resources future.

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