have not been known for the development of decision-support tools, mainly because it is a new pursuit for the agency. NAWQA should identify clients for which it can develop and test decision support tools. Evolving SPARROW to be a dynamic rather than a steady state model should be an aspect of this goal.

Objectives That Are Important but Not Essential to Cycle 3

The committee advises that the following objectives are important but not essential to NAWQA’s mission and to its role as a national program. For these objectives, the committee believes that NAWQA should play a contributing role or work closely in partnership with other organizations with complementary capabilities (for additional information, see Chapter 5). These are identified in Boxes 4-3 through 4-6, above.

Goal 1 Status and Trends: Objective c (status and trends of microbial contaminants)

In Cycle 1, indicator bacteria were collected at study unit monitoring sites, but the data were never synthesized at the national level. At the end of Cycle 1, a pilot study was conducted to evaluate the occurrence of indicator organisms in stream and groundwater sites (Francy et al., 2000). This pilot was intended to support and inform larger-scale monitoring of microbial contaminants in Cycle 2, which while supported by NRC (2002), was not pursued because of limited funding.

Although Objective 1c (determine the distributions and trends in microbial contaminants in streams and rivers used for recreation) is a valuable scientific effort, it is not considered core to NAWQA. In NRC (2010), the committee questioned whether NAWQA’s pursuit of microbial contaminants (then, articulated as a water-quality stressor in the Science Framework) was within the scope of its vision. The committee reiterates that concern here. Furthermore, assessing the status and trends of microbial contaminants at the scale proposed in the Science Plan is a formidable task. The committee questions whether NAWQA has the capacity to proceed with this objective; this could be a resource-intensive effort, and it may be inappropriate to proceed at the expense of core efforts, given limited funding.

Yet this objective would have consequences if not undertaken. The essence of this goal is a human health issue, the result of which would establish the quality of recreational waters. Not only is the societal benefit clear, but also assessing microbial contaminants can be a highly visible activity for the program, clearly demonstrating program impact. NAWQA needs to examine the costs and benefits of obtaining these data when determining whether to pursue this objective. States have also been monitoring micro-

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