BOX 5-3

The Role of NAWQA’s National Liaison Committee in Cycle 3 Planning

In March 2010, the National Liaison Committee met to discuss planning for Cycle 3. The liaison committee was briefed on a preliminary draft of the Science Plan, which included the leadership vision for Cycle 3 and related science and policy questions the program planned to pursue. The committee was asked if this vision and related questions would meet the nation’s needs in Cycle 3. Liaison committee members expressed strong support for:

• continued assessment of four major issues: excess nutrients, contaminants, sediment, and streamflow alteration;

• the planned rebuilding of the NAWQA status and trends networks in Cycle 3;

• coordinated water programs to leverage existing investments;

• a more robust national reference site network; and

• integration of monitoring, modeling, and understanding studies at multiple scales to forecast water-quality and ecosystem response to large-scale future changes (i.e., climate change and demographic change).

local efforts could be more consistent and perhaps beneficially enhanced. However, the design changes that have taken place during Cycle 2 have forced NAWQA away from the study unit framework to a more regional framework that does not generate the same level of local interest. As a result, there has been a corresponding decrease in study unit liaison committees. Focused topical studies, or understanding studies, have typically held liaison events, but attendance has been more limited compared to Cycle 1 because of the narrower scope of these studies (NAWQA leadership team, personal communication, May 2009). NAWQA’s Major River Basins, Principal Aquifers, and Topical Study teams have also used stakeholder groups to review results and expected program reports and products.

The committee commends these ongoing efforts and encourages their continuance. NAWQA should maintain its interface with the NLC and stakeholder groups, to the extent practical, to maintain these important relationships, thereby further leveraging resources to support collaborative efforts to implement the national Science Plan.

The NRC’s 2002 review of NAWQA, as it prepared for Cycle 2, offered other observations and recommendations on “Cooperation and Coordination Issues” that need not be restated here. Some of the recommendations became moot with design changes, as noted above. Yet NAWQA has made a significant, positive effort to address the key recommendations from NRC (2002), such as continued work on cooperative efforts with the USGS

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