National Water Quality Laboratory Agreements of Work With Others (WWO)


Final version 6/1/01


Introduction:  Federal agencies working on national issues relevant to the USGS mission should be able to obtain nationally consistent chemical and biological analyses that are well documented over time for environmental assessments and trends. These agencies recognize the value of USGS analytical work and are willing to pay for it; however, they are not willing to enter into traditional agreements where USGS conducts the entire study because they may already have resources for collecting and processing samples and for managing and interpreting environmental data.


Bureaus in the Department of Interior and other Federal Agencies (EPA, NPS, BLM, CDC, NIEHS, etc) frequently need water-quality analytical results with the same level of quality assurance that the USGS needs for environmental water-quality assessments and trends studies. These agencies often utilize available USGS data and data from other sources; however, new data or new analytical capabilities are sometimes needed by these agencies, and they cannot efficiently obtain the needed results from their own agency or from private sector laboratories. 


Purpose:  To establish a framework for providing analytical chemical and biological expertise directly from the NWQL to other governmental agencies and to the private sector for hydrologic environmental assessments.


Objective:  To establish policies that define the nature, extent, and requirements for work with others by the NWQL.


Potential Benefits for the USGS (Expected outcomes):


1.      WWO projects can help USGS fulfill its role as the science provider for DOI and other federal agencies.

2.      WWO projects may be a first step in familiarizing others with the full capabilities of the USGS, thus enhancing the Survey’s visibility and ability to attract new customers and projects.

3.      WWO projects can further the USGS mission and scientific knowledge base by generating new analytical methods and/or additional scientific data for USGS by coordinating resources provided by others that have overlapping interests in hydrologic environmental assessments.

4.      Participation may increase the NWQL customer base.



Specific guidelines for WWO agreements:


NWQL will follow the same approach to project and program planning that is used by other Water offices. NWQL will work with the Associate Director for Water, the Office of Water Quality, and the appropriate regional executives and technical office staff (including the regional WQ specialist) as needed for the tasks outlined below.

WWO projects will not impact the sample turn-around times or the ability of NWQL and the Methods Research and Development Program (MRDP) to complete planned technical methods development activities needed to support the USGS. The NWQL will continue to place emphasis on the necessity for project planning and effective communication between the laboratory and its customers to avoid potential overloads for everyone. If a WWO request is made of NWQL that will negatively impact ongoing commitments, the workload will be renegotiated or rejected.


1.      Requests for work from DOI or other federal agencies on issues of national or regional interest consistent with the USGS mission will be discussed with the appropriate Regional Executive and/or Associate Director before a WWO proposal is developed.  Potential inclusion of other USGS offices in hydrologic components of the agency study will be explored. Suitability of the work, including explicit benefits to the USGS, will be discussed and documented in the WWO proposal.


2.      All work must adhere to the guidelines in Water Resources Memorandum 95.44, Avoiding Competition with the Private Sector. WWO projects must provide an enhancement of knowledge or methodology that is likely to be useful beyond the immediate needs of the customer. The work should help USGS lead the Nation in providing new understanding, approaches, technology, and research for water-resources problems. It must be demonstrated that the proposed work goes significantly beyond what the private sector would do, either in terms of research or innovation, or in terms of contribution to shared hydrologic data or knowledge. If the project is limited to the routine application of standard, pre-existing protocols and does not fulfill any broader goals, then the work will be rejected.


3.      NWQL will not negotiate directly with State or local entities for work without the approval and involvement of the appropriate USGS offices.


4.      Requests for work from the private sector will be administered through a CRADA, and will be carefully screened to ensure that all required policies are met and that the work does not compromise the scientific neutrality of the USGS.  Efforts will be made to include an impartial technical overseer of the CRADA products (example is the National Water Quality Monitoring Council oversight of the DuPont CRADA) as appropriate.


5.      Work must adhere to the applicable policies of the USGS, as these products will bear the USGS name and reputation. 


6.      A WWO proposal will be developed between NWQL and the requesting agency that details the work to be done. All pertinent required QA plans will be included. Current policy on USGS overhead, local overhead, and facilities charges will be followed. Appropriate funding mechanisms will be followed. Before any work begins, proposals will be submitted through the Office of Water Quality for approval by the Associate Director for Water. 


7.      NWQL will work with the appropriate USGS offices to ensure that procedures are included in the WWO proposal (with funding if needed) to provide site identifiers and handle data storage for environmental results suitable for NWIS. Results that cannot be stored in NWIS will be provided separately to appropriate offices. A summary of the results of the work will be documented in a transmittal letter that is shared with appropriate offices.


8.      If the work involves methods development, suitable USGS publications will be included in the WWO proposal to document the new methods.


9.      The NWQL will establish an internal web page for USGS users to review any established WWO agreements and transmittal letters documenting results. Interested persons or groups can contact the laboratory for more information should they be interested in any of the projects.


10.  A summary of WWO activities of the NWQL will be provided annually to Senior Staff.



Capabilities and Scope of Services the NWQL Can Provide:


1.      Provide chemical and biological methods research and development.

2.      Provide technical analytical water-quality support for projects and programs.  The NWQL can be a valuable team member for projects/programs that need chemical or biological analytical expertise to help design, build and execute a comprehensive sampling and analysis program.

3.      Provide long-term analytical support for studies where laboratory consistency and/or trend identification is critical.

4.      Include well-documented methods, QA/QC protocols and data deliverables.

5.      Provide capability for special analytical requirements where low level and or non-standard analytical methods are required.

6.      Provide easy access to specialized analytical services for other Federal agencies, both technically and fiscally, through the use of agreements, Memoranda of Understanding, and CRADAs.