USGS Announces Progress in Development of National Water Quality Network

On April 17, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced the launch of a pilot phase of the network to monitor U.S. coastal waters and their tributaries.

The goal of the National Water Quality Monitoring Network is to provide information about the health of the nation's oceans and coastal ecosystems and inland influences on coastal waters for improved resource management. According to USGS, the network is unique because it uses an integrated, multidisciplinary approach and addresses a broad range of water resources, from upland watersheds to offshore waters.

The network will coordinate water monitoring across the nation to provide a comprehensive database and understanding of water resources and the health of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources. The pilot phase of the network will involve three areas: Delaware River Basin, Lake Michigan and San Francisco Bay. Researchers will examine current monitoring and gaps in relation to the proposed network design specifications. This pilot phase will be completed by January, 2008, officials said.

The pilot phase is the second step of implementing the network design, which is being coordinated with both the Integrated Ocean Observing System and the U.S. Group on Earth Observations. The next demonstration phase, to begin in 2008, most likely will involve improvements to existing monitoring sites and installation of new sites, sensors and data systems needed to fill critical data gaps in selected regions. Further network efforts will facilitate the development of regional elements of a national coastal observing system, which will be a key element in addressing coastal resource management issues.

The network was developed through the National Water Quality Monitoring Council by 80 representatives from federal, state and local government organizations, universities, water associations and the private sector. The council is a subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Water Information, which is managed by USGS.

More information on the National Monitoring Network can be found at

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