Table of Contents
ITFM FIRST YEAR
ITFM SECOND YEAR
TECHNICAL APPENDIXES of the Second Year Report
ITFM THIRD YEAR
In April 1991, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) initiated discussions about how to resolve numerous problems associated with monitoring water-quality in the United States. Federal and State participants in these discussions observed that Federal, State, and local agencies use a variety of procedures to collect, store, and report water-quality data. Because procedures and methods of analyses vary depending upon the objectives of data collection, expertise, and available funds, potential users of the information had no standard way to ascertain the quality of information collected.
Although agencies were collectively making very large investments in the acquisition of water information, the contribution of the investment to an understanding of regional and national water-quality conditions and trends was not as great as it could be. Furthermore, stimulated in part by the reauthorization of the Clean Water Act, the agencies wanted to develop better information about the impact of pollution-control investments on water-quality conditions in the United States.
An outcome of these interagency discussions was an agreement to establish a joint task force to carry out a study of water-quality monitoring in the United States and to recommend improvements. Subsequently, the Intergovernmental Task Force on Monitoring Water Quality (ITFM) was established as part of the Interagency Advisory Committee on Water Data (IACWD). (This Federal advisory committee is charged by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum 92-01 to carry out the Water Information Coordination Program). ITFM is chaired by EPA and vice-chaired by the USGS. Members of the ITFM include 10 Federal agencies, and 10 State, interstate, and Tribal agencies. Over 140 agency representatives serve on the ITFM's 8 working groups.
In its first year report, "Ambient Water-Quality Monitoring in the United States: First Year Review, Evaluation and Recommendations" (ITFM , 1992), the ITFM discussed the need for a nationwide, integrated, voluntary monitoring strategy that would enhance the implementation of defensible water-quality programs and management decisions. The Task Force developed a conceptual model of the strategy, identified the components or building blocks that participating agencies would need to implement the strategy, and established task groups and work groups to develop the needed information. A key component of the nationwide strategy was a national committee to continue the work of the ITFM subsequent to issuing its final report. The national body would issue guidance on such topics as institutional collaboration, environmental indicators to measure progress in achieving nationwide goals, adoption of performance-based methods to encourage data comparability, and data exchanges between agencies; and would facilitate implementation of the strategy by participating groups and agencies at all levels of government. The ITFM recognized the need for regional bodies that would facilitate coordination of monitoring programs in the field.
In its second year report, "Water-Quality Monitoring in the United States" (ITFM, 1994), the ITFM and its task groups concentrated on developing the "building blocks" needed to implement the nationwide strategy. These products, which were in various stages of preparation, included:
In addition the ITFM has prepared drafts of papers on the following topics:
- National ITFM Charter---A charter for a permanent national body (National Council for Monitoring Water Quality) to guide the implementation of the ITFM recommendations and to facilitate further collaboration of the many Federal, State, Tribal, regional, local, private, and voluntary organizations that are involved in monitoring.
- Monitoring Framework---A framework for monitoring water quality which defines the components that a monitoring program should consider in order to ensure that it accomplishes its objectives.
- Indicator Selection Criteria---Criteria with which to select parameters that measure progress in achieving water-quality goals.
- Environmental Indicators---ITFM recommendations of indicators to measure whether water-quality uses designated by the State are being met.
- Methods and Data Comparability Board---A charter for a Methods and Data Comparability Board to foster the development and use of performance-based methods of collection and analysis in a manner which will result in the acquisition of data of known quality. Incompatible methods and data of unknown quality are some of the biggest obstacles to sharing data among monitoring agencies and other users.
- Comparability and Performance-Based Methods---A recommendation for comparability of water information through the use of performance based methods.
- Use of the Ecoregion Concept, Reference Conditions, and Index Calibration
By means of the second year report and its separate volume of technical appendixes, the ITFM was seeking review and comments on these products. The technical appendixes are listed below:
- Multimetric approaches to describing ecological conditions
- Guidance for reporting water-quality results
- Framework for monitoring ground water
- Environmental indicators matrix for ground water
B. Framework for Water-Quality Monitoring
C. Charter for the National Water-Quality Monitoring Council
D. Indicators for Meeting Management Objectives---Summary Matrix
E. Indicators for Meeting Management Objectives---Rationale Matrix
F. Indicator Selection Criteria
G. Ecoregions, Reference Conditions, and Index Calibration
H. Multimetric Approach for Describing Ecological Conditions
I. Charter for Methods and Data Comparability Council
J. Data Comparability and Performance-Based Methods Policy Paper---
Comparability of Data-Collection Methods
K. Target Audiences, Monitoring Objectives, and Format Considerations for
Reporting Water-Quality Information
L. Annotated Bibliography of Selected Outstanding Water-Quality Reports
M. Ground-Water-Quality Monitoring Framework
N. Ground-Water Indicators
During 1993, the ITFM undertook a pilot study in Wisconsin to test various ITFM recommendations. In the pilot study, State and several Federal agencies concentrated on jointly sampling selected sites and comparing agency methods to determine the magnitude of differences in measurement results and their causes. The study was expanded in 1994.
During 1993, the ITFM requested the Advisory Committee on Water Data for Public Use (ACWDPU) review the first year report. The ACWDPU is part of the WICP and is composed of representatives of professional societies, environmental groups, universities, private industry, and volunteer monitoring groups. The ITFM also invited representatives of municipal utilities, industry, environmental groups, and volunteer groups for a public meeting to discuss the recommendations. The ITFM members also made presentations at several nationwide forums of industry, professional, and State administrative groups. At the regional level, EPA and USGS regional staffs held meetings with State and Federal agencies in each of the 10 Federal regions to discuss monitoring problems and opportunities and the ITFM recommendations. All concurred that the basic ITFM recommendation for a national water-quality-monitoring strategy was sound. A number of suggestions were made to further detail the strategy.
Finally, the ITFM Chair was invited by Senator Robert Graham, Chairman, Senate Subcommittee on Clean Water, Fisheries, and Wildlife, Committee on Environment and Public Works, to report to him changes that the ITFM felt should occur in the Clean Water Act (CWA) reauthorization to meet the new monitoring and information needs of a watershed protection approach. The ITFM response stressed the importance of reliable monitoring information with which to measure progress towards goals, nationwide collaboration to ensure the most efficient use of monitoring resources, and implementation of a monitoring strategy that specifies roles for Federal, State, and Tribal agencies, and other groups, and also stressed performance-based methods, and the establishment of reference conditions.
In the third and final year of its work, the ITFM further refined the nationwide monitoring strategy and laid the groundwork for voluntary implementation by Federal and State agencies. The "building block" products that ITFM task groups have developed were integrated into a nationwide implementation plan. The Final ITFM report is forthcoming and the recommendations and conclusions are provided here.
Copies of the ITFM's first and second year reports may be obtained from the:
U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Water Data Coordination
417 National Center
Reston Virginia, 22092
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