PROGRAMS AND PLANS--Role of the U.S. Geological Survey in Programs and Projects Involving Regulation and Resource Management

In Reply Refer To:                              February 22, 1993
Mail Stop 412


Subject:  PROGRAMS AND PLANS--Role of the U.S. Geological Survey
          in Programs and Projects Involving Regulation and
          Resource Management

The Water-Quality Specialists Workshop held in Albuquerque, 
New Mexico, February 1-5, 1993, generated considerable discussion 
about the role and boundaries of the U.S. Geological Survey in the 
conduct of programs and projects involving regulation and resource 
management.  To assist water-quality specialists in setting goals, 
objectives, and boundaries for water-quality projects, I want to 
illustrate the role of the USGS in the six components of the 
Irrigation Drainage Program.

The Irrigation Drainage Program is a joint effort by the 
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(FWS), the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), and the U.S. Bureau 
of Indian Affairs (BIA), with the first three agencies playing the 
major roles.  The six goals of the program are to:

1.  Determine the potential for irrigation-induced water-quality 
problems caused by water from Department of the Interior (BOR, 
BIA) projects and occurring in or around BOR and FWS 
refuges/managed wildlife areas.

2.  Conduct reconnaissance studies on the areas having high 
potential for problems to determine whether problems are 

3.  Conduct detailed studies to determine the cause of problems 
identified in the reconnaissance studies.

4.  Evaluate management alternatives for remediation of problems 
for which the Department of the Interior is responsible.

5.  Implement selected remediation measures.

6.  Conduct water-quality monitoring to help determine whether 
remediation measures have had the desired effect.

Among the three major agencies, the overall missions are generally 
for the USGS to provide data and interpretive information that 
describes the condition of land and water resources; the FWS to 
ensure the health of animal, bird, and fish populations, and the 
BOR to develop and manage water resources for irrigation, power 
generation, and other uses.  Against this background of missions, 
within the Irrigation Drainage Program, the USGS either played 
the leadership role or shared this role with the FWS for goals 1, 
2, and 3; played a role in evaluating management alternatives 
developed in collaboration with the FWS and BOR for goal 4, 
provided information for, but did not participate actively in 
goal 5, and provided leadership in the design and conduct of 
goal 6 (where monitoring was deemed necessary).

Thus, within the Irrigation Drainage Program, the USGS played its 
historic role of collecting data, conducting interpretive studies, 
and assessing the condition of resources.  The USGS also 
collaborated on evaluating resource management alternatives.  The 
USGS did not become involved in implementation of remediation 
measures, because this is a part of resource management--a role 
that our mission clearly does not include.

                                    David A. Rickert
                                    Chief, Office of Water Quality

This memorandum does not supersede any Office of Water Quality 
Technical Memorandum.

Key Words:  irrigation drainage, regulations

Distribution:  Regional Water-Quality Specialists
               Area Water-Quality Specialists
               District Water-Quality Specialists