NWQMC CONFERENCE 2000:
From Reno to Austin
The purpose of the National Water Quality Monitoring Council (the Council) is to provide a national forum to coordinate consistent and scientifically defensible water quality monitoring methods and strategies. National conferences are one of the primary vehicles the Council has for providing a forum where those of us involved in water monitoring can meet, network, share strategies, build collaborations, and leave energized and motivated so we can effectively tackle the challenges waiting for us at home.
As part of its work, the Council organized and held the conference Monitoring: Critical Foundations to Protect Our Waters, July 1998, in Reno, Nevada. The specific goal was to provide a forum for interaction among monitoring groups focused on the exchange of ideas and strategies. The conference highlighted the presentation of reports on successful monitoring, indicator development activities, efforts involving enhanced communication and collaboration, and increased public involvement in monitoring.
Through its efforts, the Council is highlighting the importance of, and supporting monitoring activities that provide knowledge of ecosystem quality, processes, and sustainability. There is a an emphasis on scientifically based indicators, designs, methods, and data management systems to allow meaningful communication with environmental policy and management decision makers.
There were nearly 400 participants at the 1998 Reno conference. Approximately 100 oral and poster presentations were offered in 30 presentation and discussion workshops. The workshops were organized into four broad tracksMonitoring Design Strategies, Methodology and Information Sharing, Indicators and Reference Conditions, and Linking Monitoring to Environmental Management and Decision Making. The objective of each workshop, following the presentations, was to develop a set of recommendations that would be forwarded to the Council. The recommendations represent the direct input of the broadly based environmental monitoring community to short- and long-term strategies of the Council, and they will be incorporated into the Councils work plan.
Several overriding issues surfaced throughout the discussions, including the necessity of defining data quality objectives prior to commencing program design or monitoring projects. There was discussion on the need to endorse and support development of regionally calibrated reference conditions using biological, physical, and chemical indicators.
Participants suggested that the Council take a leadership role in standardizing the performance-based methods system for increasing the monitoring communitys ability to share data and information. Associated with that, and also frequently discussed, was the proposition that the Council develop technical and programmatic guidance documents for network design, sampling methods, data analysis and interpretation of results, program development, and training. One of the most pervasive issues occurring throughout all tracks was the need for increased public education and outreach on environmental concerns, with greater involvement of volunteer monitoring groups.
Following are selected recommendations developed by the conference participants in Reno:
Monitoring Program Design