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General introduction for the “National Field Manual for the Collection of Water-Quality Data”

February 28, 2018

Background

As part of its mission, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collects data to assess the quality of our Nation’s water resources. A high degree of reliability and standardization of these data are paramount to fulfilling this mission. Documentation of nationally accepted methods used by USGS personnel serves to maintain consistency and technical quality in data-collection activities. “The National Field Manual for the Collection of Water-Quality Data” (NFM) provides documented guidelines and protocols for USGS field personnel who collect water-quality data. The NFM provides detailed, comprehensive, and citable procedures for monitoring the quality of surface water and groundwater. Topics in the NFM include (1) methods and protocols for sampling water resources, (2) methods for processing samples for analysis of water quality, (3) methods for measuring field parameters, and (4) specialized procedures, such as sampling water for low levels of mercury and organic wastewater chemicals, measuring biological indicators, and sampling bottom sediment for chemistry. Personnel who collect water-quality data for national USGS programs and projects, including projects supported by USGS cooperative programs, are mandated to use protocols provided in the NFM per USGS Office of Water Quality Technical Memorandum 2002.13. Formal training, for example, as provided in the USGS class, “Field Water-Quality Methods for Groundwater and Surface Water,” and field apprenticeships supplement the guidance provided in the NFM and ensure that the data collected are high quality, accurate, and scientifically defensible.