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Recommendation 2: Implement a strategic monitoring program

Problem

The federal government currently lacks a comprehensive, strategic program for monitoring surface water and groundwater. In the past, the U.S. Geological Survey routinely monitored water quality and quantity in many areas; however, these efforts have been systematically scaled back over the past 15 years. In many areas, few (if any) long-term data sets are available to assess trends in water quality and quantity. Although groundwater levels, streamflow, and various water quality indicators are monitored sporadically at selected locations by some state and municipal agencies, efforts vary widely, and long-term data sets are rare. Such data is essential for making sound, scientifically based management decisions that prevent the overdraft and/or overallocation of water resources.

Goal

To consistently monitor key indicators of surface and groundwater resources and to assess trends in water quality and quantities.

Recommendation

Augment our current national monitoring network with a comprehensive program for both surface water and groundwater.

This program must integrate data collection and research, assess trends, and make data available in forms that support adaptive management.