The National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program—A Basis for Water-Resource Policy Development

by P. Patrick Leahy, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, United States,
William G. Wilber, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Structures for Enhanced Safety and Physical Security


The concepts that are the basis for the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program began forming in the early 1980's. By 1986, a pilot phase was initiated to test and refine assessment concepts and in 1991, the NAWQA program began a multi-year transition to a fully operational program. The goals of the program are to describe the status and trends in the quality of a large representative part of the Nation's ground- and surface-water resources and to develop an understanding of the natural and human factors affecting the quality of these resources. This information will provide a sound scientific basis upon which water resources decision making at all governmental levels can be based. To meet its goals, the program will integrate water-quality information at local, regional, and national scales. The program will be perennial and consist of two major components -- study-unit investigations and national assessment activities. Investigations of surface- and ground-water resources of major regional hydrologic systems (river basins and aquifer systems) each covering 1200 to about 60,000 square miles, will be conducted on a rotating basis for 60 study units located throughout the Nation. Key findings from these study-unit investigations will be used along with other information to provide issue-oriented water-quality assessments of regional and national interest.

Subject Headings: Water quality | Water resources | Water policy | Water supply | Groundwater quality | Quality control | Geological surveys | Surface water

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