Friday, May 13, 2011

NOAA, USACE, and USGS Supports Water Resources Management

The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to form an innovative partnership of federal agencies to address America’s growing water resources challenges.

Water resources decision makers nationwide require new and more integrated information and services to adapt to the uncertainty of future climate, land-use changes, an aging water delivery infrastructure, and an increasing demand on limited resources. These agencies, with complementary missions in water science, observation, prediction and management, have formed this partnership to unify their commitment to address the nation’s water resources information and management needs.

To meet this demand for information, the Collaborative Science, Services and Tools to Support Integrated and Adaptive Water Resources Management MOU signed today will facilitate addressing water information needs including the creation of high-resolution forecasts of water resources showing where water for drinking, industry and ecosystems will be available. In addition, integrated water information will provide one-stop shopping through a database portal to support stakeholders in managing water resources.

The MOU also sets the foundation for other federal agencies and partners to elect to join the collaborative partnership in the future.

The Honorable Terrence (Rock) Salt, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator, and Dr. Marcia McNutt, director of the U.S. Geological Survey signed the MOU during a ceremony at Georgetown Waterfront Park, near the Potomac River streamgage in Washington, D.C.

“Water resources management will be one of the most significant challenges facing the nation in the 21st century,” said The Honorable Terrence (Rock) Salt, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works. “This Memorandum of Understanding is a commitment by our agencies to work together and closely coordinate our efforts in water management to

provide the nation with critically needed water resources information and support for better and smarter water planning and management. The agreement achieves one of our objectives to build a federal partnership to align programs and capabilities to support the states and stakeholders in smart, collaborative efforts.”

“This initiative will leverage each agency's expertise to improve water resource forecasts and facilitate informed decisions, all utilizing the best available science," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "This marks a step forward in providing tailored, easily accessible and usable water information services to the people who need it."

“This partnership is a great example of how forward-thinking government agencies can enhance their complementary resources while providing great service to the nation on issues of critical importance,” said USGS director Marcia McNutt. “We built upon a successful collaboration developed during times of extreme events, and we are extending it to a stronger, enduring relationship through the MOU.”

The MOU will serve as an umbrella agreement that will allow the participating agencies to coordinate and cooperate in activities to improve water resource services. Cooperative activities in these fields may include, but are not limited to, project plan development; exchange of technical information, tools and services; joint studies; research and development activities of mutual interest; joint educational and communications activities to advance the understanding of water resources planning and management; and exchange visits and work details of individuals sponsored by all agencies who are engaged in water resources projects of mutual interest.

The MOU is designed to facilitate the ability of agency scientists, engineers, and managers to work together; achieve mutual goals and leverage resources for sharing information; and plan, develop, and implement initiatives in support of integrative and adaptive water resources management.

NOAA, USACE and USGS have a long history of working with one another and information sharing. For example, for more than 100 years, the USGS, in collaboration with the USACE and 850 other cooperators, has operated a nationwide streamgage network that monitors the water level and flow of the nation’s rivers and streams. The National Weather Service, under NOAA, forecasts flooding using this streamgage data to reduce losses from flood damages.

The new agreement will further facilitate earlier and more accurate flood predictions and allow these government agencies to expand river and flood maps showing forecasted spatial extent and depth of flooding, which is only one example of the activities that will support the intent of the agreement.

The partnership will address the goals of the Integrated Water Resources Science and Services (IWRSS) initiative and the objective of the Building Strong Collaborative Relationships for a Sustainable Water Resources Future initiative to build a Federal Support Toolbox for Integrated Water Resources Management.


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