Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

Water Science and Technology Board
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202 334 3422
Fax: 202 334 1961

Dr. Marcia McNutt
Director, U.S. Geological Survey
USGS National Center
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192, USA

Dear Dr. McNutt,

In 2009, the U.S. Geological Survey requested that the National Research Council’s (NRC) Water Science and Technology Board review and provide guidance on the direction and priorities of the National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. This review would include perspective on past accomplishments and the current and future design and scope of the program as it moves into its third decade of water quality assessment (Cycle 3). In response, the NRC formed the Committee to Review the USGS National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program to address a set of tasks agreed upon by the USGS and NRC (see attachment B, roster; see attachment C, statement of task). The NRC’s Water Science and Technology Board has a history of advising the NAWQA Program since its conception in the mid-1980s. This committee has continued that advisory role authoring a letter report on the initial Cycle 3 planning document, the Science Framework (Letter Report Assessing the USGS National Water Quality Assessment Program’s Science Framework (NRC, 2010)). Based on advice contained in that letter report, input from stakeholders, and additional reflection from the NAWQA Cycle 3 Planning Team, the Science Framework evolved into the Cycle 3 Science Plan1. The Science Plan is the high level planning document that will guide the NAWQA program through the next 10 years of water quality monitoring.

Your letter dated December 14th, 2010 asked the committee to provide additional advice on NAWQA’s progress in the Cycle 3 planning process, focusing particularly on whether the draft NAWQA Science Plan sets forth adequate priorities and direction for the future. We are responding to your request through this letter report, which partly addresses our tasks 1 & 4 (see attachment C) to provide guidance “on the nature and priorities of current and future water quality issues facing the nation” and “to review strategic science and implementation plans for Cycle 3 for technical soundness and ability to meet stated objectives.” Our committee’s final report, anticipated in the summer of 2011, will address the entirety of the statement of task.

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