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U.S. EPA Office of Water’s Approach to Measuring and Reporting on Progress in Water Conditions

Joan Warren, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds, Washington, DC

This presentation will include an overview of U.S. EPA’s Office of Water approach to responding to the long-standing critiques of reports on water quality issued under Section 305(b) of the Clean Water Act. These reports call on USEPA, the states, and the monitoring community to improve the design and implementation of monitoring programs to provide credible reports that track trends and provide monitoring information that will improve states’ ability to carry out key management and regulatory activities.

To respond to these critiques, the Office of Water has a number of actions underway to work with states, federal agencies, and others in the monitoring community to improve water monitoring:

  1. strengthening state and tribal water quality monitoring programs;
  2. promoting the use of multiple monitoring designs, including probability surveys, to answer questions about different water body types at the national, regional, state, and watershed scales to support good management decisions;
  3. improving reports on water quality condition at the national, regional, and state levels, including the Clean Water Act Sections 305(b) reports and the 303(d) list of impaired waters; and
  4. ensuring that data management systems contain the needed water quality information and are accessible to decision makers and the public.

Improved monitoring data and information enhance program accountability; provide the scientific foundation for water quality progress; and provide the information needed for decisions at the State and local levels.

Keywords: water quality reports, Section 303(d), Section 305(b), state and tribal water monitoring

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