|Toward Sustainable Water Information|
Magnificent and productive water systems flow through and sustain the Northeast-Midwest region’s major population centers, valuable agricultural and rural assets, and diverse natural systems. Public concern over possible effects of recent large-scale developments such as hydraulic fracturing, agricultural practices, and urbanization raise an important first-order question: is the region’s water monitoring system adequate to support decision making?
The Northeast-Midwest Institute (NEMWI), in a cooperative agreement with USGS, is working with industry, environmental, academic, and agency decision makers and experts through our Blue Ribbon Project Steering Committee and Technical Advisory Committees to investigate and describe the ability of the region’s water monitoring system to support policy decisions.
The project initially will focus on nutrient enrichment in the Lake Erie basin and shale gas extraction in the Susquehanna River basin to understand and illustrate the level of monitoring effort that might be required to answer specific policy questions. We will relate findings from these case studies to identify the types of data the region as a whole might need, to understand the extent to which available data in the network of Federal, state, and local monitoring programs can be used, and to shine a spotlight on any critical deficiencies in the region’s available water data to support decision making.
In a second phase of the project, we will provide a vision for a region-wide framework for a credible, adaptive, and cost-effective water information system, building on case study examples. We will identify and begin implementing a plan for bringing this water information system into realization, paving the way for a sustainable water information source that is responsive to decision-makers’ needs as they consider policies regarding urban, agricultural and industrial development while securing the region’s water supply into the future.
Blue Ribbon Steering Committee
Shale Technical Advisory Committee
Nutrient Technical Advisory Committee
Photo: Tower for drilling horizontally into the Marcellus Shale Formation and farmfield; Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, USA: WikiCommons by Ruhrfisch.
Graphic: United States GeologicalSurvey, real timewater monitoring map downloaded from http://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/