National Park Service Title

US Geological Survey / National Park Service - Water Quality Partnership

Planning and Selection of Project Proposals

Each year project proposals for the Water Quality Partnership are collaboratively developed with local park staff and USGS Science Centers. The proposals are evaluated, prioritized and selections are made annually by an inter-agency panel led by the USGS and NPS coordinators and other USGS and NPS representatives. Each proposal is given a numerical score based on multiple ranking criteria for the partnership including key factors such as scientific merit, severity of the resource threat in the park, problem resolution and cost-effectiveness.

The partnership is an integral part of the USGS mission to provide high quality scientific information to decision makers, and as a useful mechanism for directing USGS scientific capabilities toward real world water-quality related problems in national parks. The partnership highlights the benefits of collaboration across agencies within 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.

An important additional benefit of the partnership is the interaction of park staff with USGS scientists. Through the activities of the partnership projects, new relationships have been established which have led to engagement of USGS scientists in long-term collaborations to support key water quality information needs of the NPS.

The program supports a range of project scopes and durations focused on providing national park resource managers with the data and information necessary to guide policy and management actions aimed at protecting and improving water quality.

Project Types

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

Technical Assistance    Technical Assistance Projects

One-year efforts for purposes of installation of instrumentation, training and quality assurance, scoping or limited synoptic water quality studies, or providing technical representation to the NPS requiring water quality expertise.


Synoptic Projects    Synoptic Projects Projects

Two-year investigations of water quality to provide a timely assessment of aquatic conditions at selected locations and to evaluate the spatial relationships or contributions to those conditions, and/or to provide baseline data and information where little exists. The studies document status in water quality and may determine if management actions are achieving water quality objectives.


Intensive Projects    Intensive Projects

Three-year investigations that entail in-depth study of park water quality. Designed to characterize known or suspected water quality problems, these projects also focus on understanding causes of contamination and the implications of water quality impairment to aquatic biota.

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Date last modified: November 17, 2016