responded by forming the ad hoc Committee on USGS’s National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program, appointed under the auspices of the standing Committee on USGS Water Resource Research (CWRR). The ad hoc committee’s charge, as laid out in the Statement of Task (Box 1-2), calls for a review of both past accomplishments of the program as well as the design and scope of the program as it moves into its third decade of water-quality assessments (Cycle 3).

This report is one of a series of studies that the NRC’s Water Science and Technology Board’s CWRR has organized. Through these studies, the CWRR has provided advice to the USGS on water-related issues and programs relevant to USGS and the nation since 1985. Over nearly 27 years the CWRR and related committees have overseen reviews of almost every water-related program and initiative, some on a rotating basis. Earlier studies have concerned the National Streamflow Information Program, the National Water Use Information Program, the National Research Program, and the Water Resources Discipline5 of the USGS as well as areas of research such as river science, groundwater, hazardous materials in the aquatic environment, hydrologic hazards science, and watershed research.

The CWRR has reviewed NAWQA several times in the past. In fact, NAWQA is one of the most “reviewed” USGS programs at the USGS by the NRC. The first was when NAWQA was an unfunded concept and the then chair of the WSTB, Walter Lynn, endorsed the concept of the program in a letter report to then USGS Director Dallas Peck in October of 1985. The most recent NRC advice to NAWQA was the report Opportunities to Improve the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Assessment Program, published in 2002. The current study and report was built upon these and other NAWQA reviews by the NRC:

• Opportunities to Improve the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Assessment Program (NRC, 2002);

• National Water Quality Assessment Program: The Challenge of National Synthesis (NRC, 1994);

• A Review of the USGS National Water Quality Assessment Pilot Program (NRC, 1990);

• National Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment (NRC, 1987);

• Letter Report on a Proposed National Water Quality Assessment Program (NRC, 1985).

Once the study was underway, the USGS NAWQA Cycle 3 Planning Team asked the committee to give priority to its first task concerning


5 The Water Resources Discipline is a former unit under which USGS water-related programs were organized.

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