explain why these goals need to be pursued. Specifically, the plan needs to clarify “Why the USGS?”, “Why now?”, and “Why NAWQA?” much like it was presented to the committee in the fall of 2010 (October 26th, 2010 open session meeting of this committee). Why dynamic water quality monitoring is important now, and why the USGS via NAWQA can achieve this needs further clarity in the document although the concept and the need is compelling. Including points such as the following will enhance the draft Science Plan:

  • Simply maintaining traditional water quality monitoring will result in USGS lagging behind in providing the necessary science to solve the nation’s water problems as population growth, changes in land use, and climate variability continue to stress our nation’s water resources;
  • Water resources problems need to be addressed through a systems approach by considering a range of effects on water quality caused by multiple stressors;
  • NAWQA is uniquely positioned to lead the nation in a dynamic national synthesis of water quality information and understanding because it has infrastructure in place, interdisciplinary and collaborative experience, state-of-the-art analytical capability, and modeling capacity to do this work (NRC 2002; NRC, 2009);
  • NAWQA provides unique management-relevant assessments and tools within the public domain and has developed the capability and coordination to get needed science to decision makers (USGS, 2010);
  • NAWQA Cycle 3 and the corresponding Science Plan are an excellent investment for the nation because Goals 3 and 4 provide considerable added value and logically evolve from the work proposed in Goals 1 and 2.

Outputs and Potential Outcomes

NAWQA’s Science Plan has four goals, with objectives under those goals. The Science Plan should identify key expected outputs (the products) and potential outcomes from each objective. Outputs and potential outcomes are identified for the objectives under Goals 1 and 2. Outputs and potential outcomes are described under Goal 3, but are not objective specific. Outputs and potential outcomes are not provided for Goal 4. Developing outputs and potential outcomes for each goal is viewed as critical for the science plan’s implementation, to help frame the significance of dynamic water quality monitoring, and to help NAWQA allocate its resources effectively and efficiently over the next 10 years. To the extent possible, NAWQA should estimate when the potential outcomes are expected to occur. (The committee acknowledges that what is practical within a research-oriented product approach may be different from what is needed in a public information-oriented product approach.) Description of deliverables and their timing will help NAWQA implement its Science Plan and help its partners and stakeholders plan how and when they will utilize NAWQA’s work. USGS should strive to make NAWQA data, synthesis, and model projections available to users as quickly as practical, increasing the usefulness and relevance of its work.

Trends vs. Dynamics

Traditional monitoring assesses change by periodic measurements (for example, in the same seasons) to establish baseline water quality attributes and their seasonal averages. Results from regular sampling in time can help identify periodic changes in the state of the system with some recognition of climate or other changes in water quality, but cannot lead to a more fine-tuned understanding of trends

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement