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The Cooperative Water Program

External Review of the Coop Program

There have been two external reviews of the USGS Cooperative Water Program. Both were conducted under the auspices of the Advisory Committee on Water Information (http://water.usgs.gov/wicp/acwi/). The first, in 1999, was an extensive, comprehensive review including interviews and information-gathering sessions in field offices. The second, in 2004-05, was a 5-year progress review on implementation of recommendations from the first review.

1999 Review

The External Review Committee comprised representatives from cooperating agencies and Tribes, Federal agencies, national water resources organizations, and the private sector. The Review Committee, under the aegis of the Advisory Committee on Water Data (established under Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) guidelines) was charged with evaluating the program in four major areas: mission, prioritization and funding of work, conduct of work, and products.

The Review Committee provided many insightful observations and recommendations about the program that will help the USGS to maintain the program's core strengths while leading to significant improvements. An excerpt from the Committee's report follows:

"The Cooperative Water Program is critical to improving the management of the Nation's water resources. It is important to the Nation in that it acknowledges the keen shared-interest of Federal, State, Tribal, and other government agencies in appraising the Nation's water resources and seeking solutions to water-related problems. In today's climate of growing demands on, and increasing competition for, the Nation's water resources, there can only be an increased need for all types of water-related data and analyses in the future. The Cooperative Water Program offers the highest level of scientific knowledge, objectivity, and technical expertise. The Cooperative Water Program is integral to providing long-term data collection and analysis of water quantity, quality, and use on a national basis. Without the Cooperative Water Program, the nation would not have information vital to the routine management of the Nation's water resources and critical in the management of water-related emergencies."

For more information about the Task Force Review recommendations and the Interior Secretary's response to the recommendations, go to http://water.usgs.gov/wicp/acwi/coop/.

2004-05 Review

For the progress review, ACWI established a Task Force representing a cross section of CWP cooperators and stakeholders. The Task Force examined documents, statistics, and reports to assess progress in implementing each of the recommendations of the 1999 Task Force. The final report of the 2004-20 Task Force was approved by ACWI in January 2006. An excerpt follows:

“Significant progress has been made by the USGS since the release of the 1999 Cooperative Water Program Task Force report. Although the total number of water monitoring stations is slightly lower now than in past years, the number of stations across the country for which real-time water resources monitoring data are available is significantly higher, which has been of great benefit to water users, water managers and the general public. Furthermore, in the few years since the Task Force report was released, data quality has improved, due in part to the ability of the new telemetry equipment to help identify faults in a timely manner and the advent and use of acoustic technology.

Of the 59 recommendations made in the 1999 Task Force report, most have either been adopted by USGS or are in various stages of planning or implementation. Recommendations where the USGS is not in total agreement, or the present Task Force felt that insufficient progress had been made are discussed in this report. Recommendations that need special attention or may involve a change in USGS philosophy are also given special attention…”

For more information on the 2004-05 report, please visit: http://water.usgs.gov/wicp/acwi/coop2004/

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