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Proceedings of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Sediment Workshop, February 4-7, 1997


G. Douglas Glysson and John R. Gray U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA


In August 1964, the Bureau of the Budget issued Circular A-67 to set forth guidelines for the coordination of water-data acquisition activities throughout the Federal government. The U.S. Department of the Interior was assigned the task of implementing Circular A-67, which in turn redelegated this responsibility to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Delegation of the lead responsibility for water-data coordination to the USGS occurred because of its historical role as the primary agency for water-data acquisition in the United States.

To provide overall leadership for implementing the provisions of Circular A-67, the USGS established the Office of Water Data Coordination in the Water Resources Division (WRD). In addition, regional and district offices of the WRD were delegated responsibility for coordinating water data within their geographic areas of responsibility.

On December 10, 1991, the Office of Management and Budget issued OMB Number Memorandum M-92-01, which expands the USGS's coordination role to encompass all water information. This includes data critical to water resources in the following categories:

Memorandum M-92-01 covers primarily freshwater bodies and includes activities, such as "development and distribution of consensus standards, field-data collection and laboratory analytical methods, data processing and interpretation, data-base management, quality control and quality assurance, and water- resources appraisals, assessments, and investigations." Research activities are not included.

INTERAGENCY ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON WATER DATA (IACWD): In 1964, the USGS formed the IACWD and the Advisory Committee on Water Data for Public Use (ACWDPU). The IACWD consists of about 30 Federal agencies. The ACWDPU consisted of non-Federal national organizations that have interest in water information.

The ACWDPU has recently been reorganized as the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI). The ACWI consists of about 33 members, of which 7 are U.S. Departments or major independent Federal agencies and 26 are non-Federal organizations that cover a wide spectrum of water-information interests. The ACWI is chaired by the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, U.S. Department of the Interior.

IACWD SUBCOMMITTEE ON SEDIMENTATION: The IACWD Subcommittee on Sedimentation, which was formed in 1938, provides a vehicle for Federal agencies to:

The Subcommittee on Sedimentation is composed of the USGS, Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Surface Mining, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission, National Park Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Natural Resources Conservation Service, Tennessee Valley Authority, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee.

The Subcommittee's Technical Committee, which is currently chaired by the USGS, consists of agencies that actively fund the Federal Interagency Sediment Project (FISP). At present, these agencies are the USGS, USACE, BLM, BOR, ARS, and USFS. The Technical Committee is responsible for identifying and prioritizing Federal technical sedimentation issues. Those sediment and water-quality issues that are deemed of sufficiently high priority by the Technical Committee and considered tractable are placed on the priority list of the FISP. The FISP, which is staffed by USGS and USACE employees and located at the USACE Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, Mississippi, seeks solutions to sedimentation and selected water-quality problems that involve:

The FISP supplies standardized, calibrated sediment and water-quality samplers, and other instruments to the Federal agencies and to foreign governments. Authority for marketing these instruments to State and local governments and to the private sector is being sought.

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF TESTING MATERIALS (ASTM): As stated earlier, one of the charges given the USGS in OMB Memorandum M-92-01 was the development and distribution of consensus standards. The ASTM is one of the leading consensus standard development organization in the world. No standard is adopted by ASTM until it has gone through a rigorous set of ballots, and all concerns associated with the proposed new standard are addressed.

ASTM has several committees that relate to water information including:

The WRD works closely with two ASTM Committees, D-18 and D-19. The subcommittee D-19.07 on Sedimentation, Geomorphology, and Open Channel Flow develops standards related to the physical measurement of flow in open channels, collection of sediment samples, physical and chemical analysis of these samples, and measurement of the morphologic characteristics of surface-water bodies. Subcommittee D-19.07 currently has 33 standards under its direction. The WRD intends to get as many of its techniques for collection and analysis of water data, as appropriate and possible, accepted as ASTM standards.

Workshop Proceedings
Contributions from Other Federal Agencies
Contribution from the USGS