In an ideal world, there would be sufficient resources to implement the Cycle 3 Science Plan. Recognizing that some objectives are more directly related to NAWQA’s core functions than others, the committee believed it important to parse the Science Plan into what components are essential, need further justification, and are important but not essential to NAWQA’s overall mission and goals. There are consequences of failing to implement the Science Plan in its entirety. For example, some of the activities surrounding the important but not essential objectives could be viewed as more policy relevant, intellectually challenging, and professionally satisfying than many of the activities associated with the essential objectives. This may have consequences as to the quality, productivity, and morale of the workforce. The impact of not studying all the process-oriented objectives in Goals 2 and 3 may limit the full development and accuracy of the models, because those processes may not be well characterized by current models. Objectives of least importance are those that could be addressed by others (states, academia, etc.) or are very regional in scale. Not addressing these objectives could mean they are never addressed.
Finally, the committee recognizes that this Science Plan and NAWQA itself will continue to adapt to change and some of the objectives could be phased in or addressed later in the decade. Other opportunities may arise to implement objectives through innovative collaborations with the many partners within USGS, the federal government, states, academe, and nongovernmental organizations. Given the likelihood that NAWQA will have insufficient funding to proceed with the full scope of the Cycle 3 Science Plan, these opportunities should be actively identified and pursued.