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Environment

Coordination of water quality data sought

July 12, 2004 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 82, ISSUE 28

At least 16 federal agencies and all states collect data on water quality, but this information is not readily available to regulators or others, a General Accounting Office investigation has found. Therefore, Congress should designate a lead organization to coordinate the collection of this data, GAO says in a June 28 report (GAO-04-382). This lead organization should develop an Internet clearinghouse describing which agencies or groups collect what information, GAO says. In addition, the lead organization should develop guidance for integrating water quality data from various sources. The data sources include EPA and agencies within the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, and Interior; states; academics; volunteer stream monitoring groups; and industry. GAO notes that these entities have inconsistent methods for obtaining samples and interpreting analytical results. The report is available at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04382.pdf.

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