NRC Reviews NAWQA Program

The National Research Council (NRC) has just completed a 3-year review of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program and published its findings in a new report entitled, “Preparing for the Third Decade (Cycle 3) of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program.” The report is available online at:

The report provides the NRC review committee’s perspectives on past accomplishments from the NAWQA Program as well as advice on the current and future design and scope of the program. More specifically, the committee provided comments and recommendations on: 1) present and future water-quality issues that should be considered for addition to the NAWQA Program’s scope; 2) which NAWQA Program components should be retained or enhanced; 3) Opportunities for NAWQA to better collaborate with others to meet program objectives; 4) the technical soundness of strategic science and design plans for the third decade of NAWQA; and 5) the NAWQA Program’s ability to meet Cycle 3 objectives.

Some of the key findings in the report include:
• First and foremost, the NAWQA Program’s primary focus should be on continuing the monitoring needed to support the national status and trends assessments of the nation’s water.

• A focus of NAWQA Program efforts in Cycle 3, second only to basic monitoring activities, should support of NAWQA modeling initiatives.

• NAWQA should maintain its interface with the other federal agencies and stakeholder groups and to work toward leveraging collaborative resources to meet the needs of the national Science Plan.
The NAWQA Program owes much of its success to the relationships that have been developed with its stakeholders over the last 26 years. The NRC committee fully understood the importance of these relationships and indicated that, “to successfully implement the Cycle 3 Science Plan, NAWQA will need to place even greater emphasis on these collaborative efforts” (see pages 12 and 91 in the report). The NAWQA Program is committed to meeting this challenge and looks forward to working with all groups in the future.