National Park Service Title

National Park Service / US Geological Survey - Water Quality Partnership

Planning and Selection of Project Proposals

Each year project proposals for the NPS/USGS Partnership Program are collaboratively developed with local Park staff and USGS Water Science Centers. The proposals are evaluated and selections are made annually by an inter-agency panel lead by the NPS and USGS coordinators and other NPS and USGS representatives. Each proposal is given a numerical score based on a version of the NPS Natural Resource Project Ranking Criteria that has been tailored for the NPS/USGS Partnership Program. The ranking criteria for the Partnership Program includes several key factors addressing scientific merit and relevance to park management needs.

One of the most important benefits of the partnership so far has been the interaction of park staff with USGS scientists. In many cases, the parties had not worked together prior to coordinating on partnership projects. Through the activities of the partnership program, new relationships are being established which are likely to lead to future opportunities for collaboration.

The USGS views the water quality partnership as an integral part of their mission to provide high quality scientific information to decision makers, and as a useful mechanism for directing their scientific capabilities toward real world problems. The partnership highlights the benefits of collaboration across disciplines and among sister agencies in the Department of Interior. The NPS views the partnership program as an effective way to provide their managers with the science necessary to make defensible decisions about their water resources.

To date, 145 partnership projects have been implemented in 104 national park units. The program supports a range of science activities focused on providing Park resource managers data and information necessary to make scientifically defensible management and policy decisions. These activities range in scope from basic technical assistance to fixed station monitoring to intensive/synoptic projects.

Project Types

Projects typically range from 1 to 3 years in duration and fall into one of four categories:

acadia    Technical Assistance Projects

Technical assistance projects provide the opportunity for USGS scientists to consult with park personnel on a variety of water-quality management issues. These projects tend to be year-long efforts.


fixed station    Fixed Station Monitoring Projects

Fixed-station monitoring projects provide water-quality data from one fixed station to address specific water-quality issues, establish trends, or simply provide baseline conditions. Once established, fixed-station monitoring projects are funded for several years.


Synoptic monitoring    Synoptic Monitoring Projects

Synoptic monitoring projects provide water-quality data to address specific water-quality issues, establish trends, or simply provide baseline conditions. These projects typically include several water-qualtiy stations throughout a study area in order to produce synoptic water-quality data. Once established, synoptic monitoring projects are funded for several years.


intensive monitoring    Intensive Monitoring Projects

Intensive/synoptic projects are designed to answer focused questions about water-quality issues of importance to a park. These projects tend to be the longest in duration and consist of a data collection as well as an interpretive phase.

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Date last modified: January 7, 2009