Monitoring for the Millennium

About the National Water Quality Monitoring Council

The National Water Quality Monitoring Council (the Council) was created in 1997.  It has thirty-five members and several alternate members—a balanced representation of federal, interstate, state, tribal, local and municipal governments; watershed and environmental groups; the volunteer monitoring community; universities; and the private sector, including the regulated community.  The Council is co-chaired by the US Geological Survey and the US Environmental Protection Agency.  The Council is chartered as a subgroup of the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI) under the Federal Advisory Committee Act.  It meets a minimum of three times a year in locations throughout the country. 

The purpose of the Council is to provide a national forum to coordinate consistent and scientifically defensible water quality monitoring methods and strategies.

The importance of clean, safe water cannot be underestimated.  The purpose of the Council is to provide a national forum to coordinate consistent and scientifically defensible water quality monitoring methods and strategies.  We need to define and develop a national consensus of monitoring models, network design strategies, and analytical tools to improve our understanding of impacts to water quality.

Our challenge
Each year government agencies, industry, academia and private organizations devote enormous amounts of time, energy, and money to monitor, protect, manage, and restore water resources and watersheds.  Critical differences in project design, methods, data analysis, and data management have often made it difficult for monitoring information and results to be shared and used by all.  The restoration and protection of water quality is now dependent upon detailed information about the uses of water and the pollution it faces.  The 1999 Clean Water Action Plan issued a charge to federal agencies that clearly puts the focus on collaboration and comparability:  "Establish compatible data standards, resource classifications, inventory methods and protocols to allow the sharing of ecological, resource condition, land use and monitoring information among federal and other stakeholder groups."

Our strategy
National goals are formulated and carried out through Council meetings and working groups. Results are shared at biennial conferences which provide feedback from constituents shape the Council's workplan and activities.  The Council has a number of goals, each with an active work group, whose broad membership expands the expertise of the Council.  They include:

  Water Information Strategies: Create and communicate goal-oriented monitoring design guidance that results in comparable information, over time and space, being produced in support of management decision making.

  Methods and Data Comparability: Provide a basis and forum for comparing, evaluating, and promoting methods that produce data that can be compared between water quality monitoring programs.

  Institutional Collaboration: Build and support creative partnerships among the many elements of the monitoring community, particularly by supporting the development of state and regional monitoring councils.

  Data Management and Accessibility: Promote data and information sharing to the public and between elements of the water quality monitoring community.

  Public Awareness and Stakeholder Outreach: Provide support so that Council members can serve as ambassadors to improve awareness of the value of monitoring and transmit useful guidelines to stakeholders and the public.

  Ground Water Focus: Provide a national forum to demonstrate how the interactions of the ground water resource with other components of the watershed can impact the ecological integrity of the entire system.

National conferences
In July of 1998, the Council held its first national conference in Reno, Nevada. Over 400 people attended that conference, titled Monitoring: Critical Foundations to Protect Our Waters.  The 2000 conference, Monitoring for the Millennium, is designed to build on the critical foundations of discussion, networking, and exploration that were the hallmarks of the Reno conference. 


NWQMC Council Members and Alternates

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