|Letter Report Assessing the USGS National Water Quality Assessment Program's Science Framework (2010)|
The U.S. Geological Survey's National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program provides an understanding of U.S. water-quality conditions and how they change over time, and how natural features and human activities affect those conditions. This letter report provides near-term advice to NAWQA as it enters its third decade (Cycle 3) of water quality monitoring. The report recommends that activities in this cycle be organized around two drivers of indirect and direct stress water supplies and related ecosystems around the nation: (1) change in land use due to population and other demographic changes and (2) climate variability and change. Under these two broad drivers, the program should formulate specific, policy-relevant research questions it will address and use to guide scientific priorities. The report also encourages NAWQA to: further define and enhance the program to meet the principle of "national scale"; adhere to its original program design of probing water quality status, trends, and understanding; align with the new U.S. Geological Survey's Six Strategic Science Directions; and concentrate on studies where it continues to make a unique and substantial scientific contribution.