DOI Report Cites Need for Improved Water-Monitoring and Modeling Systems

On October 3, the Department of the Interior (DOI) published a report to Congress entitled, “Strengthening the Scientific Understanding of Climate Change Impacts on Freshwater Resources of the United States.”  The report assesses the status of scientific information available to help understand the impacts of climate change and other stressors on the nation’s water resources and calls for modernization of systems to help monitor and sustain water supplies.  A Federal interagency panel led by the USGS developed the report in concert with the Council on Environmental Quality, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The report underscores the importance of maintaining, enhancing or developing adequate water measuring and monitoring systems to track water availability and quality so that water managers can make decisions about allocations of water and the infrastructure that helps it flow with the best information available.  The report also provides suggestions about ways to modernize data systems, management, modeling and water measurement tools and highlights the need to coordinate data among agencies.  Programs highlighted for modernization include: the National Streamflow Information Program, the National Groundwater Monitoring Network, and implementation of the National Water-Quality Monitoring Network.

This report also builds upon the April 2011 Bureau of Reclamation’s SECURE Water Act Report that highlights climate challenges and impacts in the eight western river basins available online at: www.usbr.gov/climate.

This is also part of the DOI’s efforts to implement the SECURE Water Act and to help meet the water challenges of the future.  DOI established the WaterSMART program in February 2010 that includes the USGS National Water Census.  The SMART in WaterSMART stands for “Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow.”  More information about WaterSMART is available online at http://www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/.

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