The protection and the enhancement of the quality of the Nation's ground- and surface-water resources are high-priority concerns of the public and of local, State, and Federal governments. During the past two decades, several large water-quality spending and regulatory programs have been enacted into law. In addition, many important decisions that will determine the directions of water-quality management for future decades have yet to be made. Many of these decisions could be made with great scientific uncertainty. Thus, nationally consistent information on the status and the trends of the Nation's water quality is needed to assess past investments in water-quality management and to provide a base of knowledge for future decision making. To meet this need, Congress appropriated funds in 1986 for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to test and refine concepts for a National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. The long-term goals of the program are:
1. Provide a nationally consistent description of the current water-quality conditions for a large part of the Nation's water resources;
2. Define long-term trends (or lack of trends) in water quality; and
3. Identify, describe, and explain the major factors that affect observed water-quality conditions and trends.
1 U.S. Geological Survey, Box 25046, MS 415, Denver Federal Center, Lakewood, CO 80225