Information Strategies Work Group Meeting Minutes

West Palm Beach, Florida -- October 31 to November 2, 2006

Curtis Cude, Peter Tennant, Dan Radulescu, Don Dycus, Fred Leslie, Leslie McGeorge, Mary Skopec, Chuck Spooner, Gail Mallard, Chris Piehler, Garth Redfield, Sandy Williamson, Jon Duncan (CUAHSI).

The purpose of this meeting was to finalize and adopt a statement of objectives and tasks for the Water Information Strategies (WIS) Workgroup, and to develop task lists for the three standing teams (Program Development & Network Design, Data Management & Access, and Data Analysis & Interpretation).

WIS Objectives & Tasks
WIS developed a first draft statement of workgroup objectives and tasks at the previous face-to-face meeting held in Durham, NH, last July.  Over the space of a teleconference held before this meeting, plus the first hour allocated to this meeting, the workgroup developed the final statement, attached below.

The statement describes the background of the National Water Quality Monitoring Council, goal-oriented monitoring, the Council’s Framework for Monitoring, and WIS’ place in that context.  The statement describes the three objectives of the workgroup as well as the path towards accomplishing those objectives.  Finally, the statement describes some generally expected outcomes and products of the workgroup and its associated teams.  WIS worked with Council support staff to post the statement to the WIS portion of the Council website (/monitoring/workgroups/wis/index.html).

WIS Team Planning
The majority of the WIS meeting was devoted to allowing the three standing teams to more fully develop the task lists initiated at the last face-to-face meeting.  The teams met individually over two sessions and presented the following information to the entire workgroup.

Program Development & Network Design:
Peter Tennant (team leader), Don Dycus, Art Garceau, Fred Leslie, Gail Mallard, and Chris Piehler discussed the specific tasks identified as within its purview. The following are the tasks together with the indicated approach/direction to address them:

Table 1 – Crosswalk between the EPA Ten Elements and Council’s Monitoring Framework

EPA Element

Framework Cog

Monitoring Program Strategy

Develop Monitoring Objectives

Monitoring Objectives

Develop Monitoring Objectives

Monitoring Design 

Design Monitoring Program

Core and Supplemental Water Quality Indicators

Collect Field and Lab Data

Quality Assurance

Collect Field and Lab Data

Data Management

Compile and Manage Data

Data Analysis/Assessment

Assess and Interpret Data


Convey Findings and Evaluate Program

Programmatic Evaluation

Convey Findings and Evaluate Program

General Support and Infrastructure Planning


Data Management & Access:
Curtis Cude (team leader), Sandy Williamson, and Jon Duncan developed a three-pronged strategy based on the foundation of the Data Management, Access, and Retrieval strategy of the National Monitoring Network (see Chapter 5 of the ACWI-approved report, as well as Appendices 5-1, 5-2, and 5-3, at /monitoring/network/design/). 

  1. The first prong of the strategy is to develop specific tools or guidance to assist the WQM community.  In particular, the following three items were discussed as a starting point, in order of perceived importance:
    1. A Monitoring Program Registry would allow for the discovery of monitoring activities occurring within a geographic area.  Monitoring programs would “submit” metadata describing the scale and scope of the monitoring activities.  The metadata would be similar to or the same as metadata used to describe datasets.  There are three relevant systems in existence (FGDC/geodata.gov - http://gos2.geodata.gov/wps/portal/gos, NASA/Global Change Master Directory - http://gcmd.nasa.gov/, CUAHSI/Hydrologic Information System - http://www.cuahsi.org/his/) which should be evaluated with respect for appropriate metadata content, ease of use, and ease of accessibility.  Those systems are cross-linked such that registry in one will allow discovery in all.  The team’s goal is to develop space and guidance to enable a Monitoring Program Registry.
    2. A National Hydrologic Dataset (NHD) geocoding web service (web interface and/or xml web service) would allow for the association of monitoring/assessment locations with NHD segments.  The goal of the team is to evaluate existing tools and recommend new ones, as necessary.  A guidance document to the use of this service would also be developed.
    3. A Data Catalog for the developing EPA Water Quality Exchange (WQX) would enable the discovery of monitoring locations meeting certain criteria, allow for estimation of the amount of data meeting criteria prior to download, and other services.  The goal of the team is to examine existing data catalogs, define the need and desired features, and make recommendations to EPA OW as appropriate.
  2. The second prong is to enhance and expand data exchange networks, with the goal to increase the number of WQM organizations to which integrated data access is possible.  The team will look for opportunities to engage partners within and across web service standards, e.g., WQX, RésEau, IOOS, etc. 
  3. The third prong would be an expansion of the NMN strategies to include developing transport protocols and tools for data analysis, visualization, and reporting (AVR), modeling, and QA.

Data Analysis & Interpretation:
Dan Radulescu (team leader), Leslie McGeorge, Mary Skopec, and Garth Redfield reviewed the Council’s Terms of Reference (/monitoring/nwqmc_tref.html) to develop the foundation for the team’s work.  Based upon previous work sponsored by the workgroup (/monitoring/pubs/tr/nwqmc0101.pdf), the team will first determine the current picture on the use of data analysis techniques by the USGS and USEPA to determine water quality status and trends (starting with surface water and chemical/physical constituents) and see if there are common and/or consistent approaches.  The team’s goal in this respect is to move forward later on in identifying those analysis and trends methods that may be of common use and may assure some level of compatibility between various ways of analyzing and interpreting data. We intend to use NMN as a real life example of implementation and work with the NMN group on these issues.  The team will also seek to expand the scope of this work to include other watershed components, e.g., groundwater, wetlands, etc.
A separate but related goal of the team is to clarify the purpose and improve the results of national water quality assessments.  Some of the questions the team hopes to answer are:

Next Steps
WIS will develop a recruiting announcement for distribution to all Council-related and other appropriate e-mail lists.  The announcement will include a brief description of the workgroup and teams and invite participants to join one or more teams.  Workgroup and team e-mails lists can be managed via listserv: team members can expect to receive focused updates and requests for participation from their team listserv, as well as more general updates and requests for participation in special projects from the workgroup listserv.  Teams will begin meeting to start progressing towards their goals.  Coordination between teams will occur as part of the Council and workgroup face-to-face meetings, held 2-3 times per year. 

Announcements and Events
If you would like to share information with WIS regarding upcoming events taking place during the next year, please forward the information to Curtis Cude (cude.curtis@deq.state.or.us) for inclusion in subsequent WIS updates.

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