Water-Quality Field Methods/National Field Manual for the Collection of Water-Quality Data

In Reply Refer To:
Mail Stop 412
               March 15, 2002

Office of Water Quality Technical Memorandum 2002.13

Subject:  Water-Quality Field Methods/National Field Manual for the
Collection of Water-Quality Data

The purpose of this memorandum is to designate the National Field Manual
for the Collection of Water-Quality Data (Techniques of Water-Resources
Investigations Book 9, Chapters A1-A9) as the official and citable protocol
for the collection of water-quality data by the U.S. Geological Survey
(USGS), Water Resources Discipline.  Use of this protocol is mandated as
the standard operating procedure for all national programs, including the
NASQAN, Benchmark, NAWQA, and Toxic Substances Hydrology Programs, and for
all District-based projects, including those in the Cooperative Program.
Programs and projects that collect samples for analytes and/or mediums that
are not covered in the National Field Manual may use documented program- or
project-specific protocols, such as those that were prepared by the NAWQA
Program for collecting fish, algae, and invertebrate samples.  Identified
data-quality objectives for some project and program objectives may require
deviations from these standard procedures.  Any use of non-standard
data-collection methods must be documented in project records and reports
to show: (1) that the samples are representative of the target
environments; (2) that, through collection and analysis of appropriate
quality-control data, the samples are uncontaminated at the analyte
concentrations being measured; and (3) that the resulting data meet
data-quality objectives.

The National Field Manual was developed by the USGS Office of Water Quality
to: (1) establish and communicate scientifically sound data-collection
methods; (2) encourage consistent use of field methods in order to produce
nationally comparable data; (3) provide sampling methods that, when
properly applied, result in accurate data that are reproducible within
defined limits of variability; and (4) respond to the need to document the
methods used by the USGS and thereby provide a unified and citable
reference.  Protocols and procedures in the National Field Manual have been
tested and reviewed and are the foundation for the USGS National Training
Center courses "Field Water-Quality Methods for Ground Water and Surface
Water" (QW1028TC) and "Water-Quality Field Methods Refresher" (QW3190TC).
Revisions and additions to the National Field Manual, which are
incorporated into the web-based, electronic version, constitute an ongoing
process that responds to technological or scientific advances, newly
obtained quality-control data, changes in the types of data that are being
collected, changes in the types of equipment being used in the field, or
changes in field or analytical methods.  Revisions to the National Field
Manual are announced on the National Field Manual home page at:


All individuals collecting water-quality samples should have a hard copy of
the National Field Manual and be informed of and/or be provided with
revisions.  Hard copies of the National Field Manual chapters were printed
and distributed to all District offices at the time of publication; a
supply should be maintained to meet ongoing District needs.  Additional
copies can be obtained from the USGS Branch of Information Services, Box
25286, Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225 or phone: 1-888-ASK-USGS or Fax:
303-202-4693.  The hard copies are not likely to include the latest
revisions or additions, which are maintained in the electronic version.
New hard copies of chapters will be printed and distributed only when major
revisions are made.

Notice of errata and general comments are entered on the
Comments-and-Errata page of the National Field Manual web site.  If errors
are found or modifications seem necessary, they should be entered into the
NFM-GNATS database at:


The status and a description of all the modifications requested through
NFM-GNATS can be accessed through the same page.

Questions and comments about the National Field Manual should be directed
to Franceska Wilde (fwilde@usgs.gov) in the Office of Water Quality.

                                         Stephen K. Sorenson /s/
                                         Acting Chief, Office of Water

This memorandum supersedes Office of Water Quality Technical Memoranda
71.09, 72.04, 73.07, 75.09, 76.17, 78.06, 79.10, 80.28, 81.08, 82.01,
82.05, 84.18, 85.09, 90.01, 91.02, 91.09, 92.02, 94.09, and 97.03.

Distribution:  All WRD Employees

(See attached file: OWQ.02.13 NFM.htm)
Stephen K. Sorenson
Acting Chief, Office of Water Quality
US Geological Survey
412 National Center
Reston, VA  20192