NWQMC Banner

National Monitoring Network for U.S. Coastal Waters and Tributaries

thumbnail image of cover of An Ocean Blueprint

The goal of the Network is to provide information about the health of our oceans and coastal ecosystems and inland influences on coastal waters for improved resource management.

The Network was designed by the Council and more than 80 stakeholders in response to a recommendation by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy in 2004 in “An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century".

The Network integrates biological, chemical, and physical features and links uplands to the coastal ocean. It is, in reality, comprised of a “network of networks” and represents an integrated, multidisciplinary, and multi-organizational approach that leverages diverse sources of data and information; augments existing monitoring programs; and links observational capabilities. These networks include federal agencies, the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), and regional associations representing a broad community of users, including coastal and inland states, tribes, researchers, and non-governmental organizations.

Key design features of the Network:

  • clear linkages with management issues—including nutrient enrichment, oxygen depletion, toxic contaminants, and beaches—that are important to a broad community of users
  • Involvement of IOOS and regional associations for monitoring offshore compartments and coastal management
  • a linked data network
  • inclusion of monitoring to meet diverse objectives (including fixed and probabilistic designs); and
  • provisions for data comparability, management, and access.

A suite of network refinements was developed in 2008.

Starting in 2007, Network concepts have been piloted and implemented in San Francisco Bay, Lake Michigan, and Delaware Estuary.  Gap analyses and new monitoring have been funded by USGS, as well as through partnerships with local, state, regional, and federal organizations. The activities are coordinated with key organizations and IOOS regional associations, including the Delaware River Basin Commission;  and Mid-Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (MACOORA); Great Lakes Commission and Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS); and the San Francisco Estuary Institute and Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CenCOOS).

Two additional demonstration studies were implemented in 2012 and include Albemarle Sound and Puget Sound.


This workgroup is currently on hiatus for an indeterminate period. Questions about the National Monitoring Network can be directed to the Council co-chairs.



USGS visual ID

EPA logo

NOAA logo

DOI seal