National Ground-Water Monitoring Network
Cooperative Agreements FAQ

Network Design

How do you define principal and major Aquifers?

Principal aquifers are defined by the USGS in the Ground Water Atlas.

Major aquifers are regional aquifers defined within the USGS Ground Water Atlas. A table listing the major aquifers within each principal aquifer is available  here.

Data Collection

Can funding be used to support costs of data collection?

The only data collection that is allowed is to fill gaps in information at NGWMN sites. Well logging of sites or using GPS to update site information are two examples of supported data collection. Collection of routine water-level or water-quality data is not allowed at this time.

Routine data collection can be used as in-kind services match.


Can funding go to Universities to participate as a data provider?

If a state agency that collects groundwater data is under the University, then it is allowed. State Geological Surveys are sometimes organized this way. Otherwise, Universities cannot receive funding under this Program. They can, however, still participate as a data provider.

Why are federal agencies, such as USEPA, ineligible for this funding?

Federal agencies can be data providers but are not eligible for funding because the legislation specifically targets state and local water resource agencies. Connections to the USGS NWIS and EPA STORET databases to the Portal are already available. 

Are local water-resources associations or watershed associations eligible for funding?

Yes, if they are collecting data and storing it in an accessible database they would be eligible.

 Do projects need to be teamed with a local USGS office?

 Working with local USGS Water Science Centers is encouraged, but not required. We want the wells from NGWMN data providers and the USGS Centers to mesh together to create a good regional network.

 Are agencies who work with a local USGS WSC on a data collection project using Cooperative Matching Funds considered to be a data provider?

Yes since these agencies are providing funding to support the data collection, they are considered data providers. However, since the data is provided by USGS, these agencies are not eligible to apply for work under objectives 1 or 2. They can apply for work within objectives 3, 4, or 5. As described in the Program Announcement, these agencies need to include a letter of support from the local USGS WSC with their project proposal. 

Are federally recognized tribes eligible?

Unfortunately, no. The authorizing legislation specifically targeted state or local agencies. We are trying to get this changed.

Wells in the Network

Are you interested in including inactive wells in the network or do you only want wells that are sampled/measured currently or in a future cycle?

We only want active wells for the network. Wells that are planned to be sampled within the next 5 years or have water- levels measured within the next 3 years could fit in a Surveillance network.

Can public supply wells be used for the water-quality network?

Yes, Monitoring or unused wells are preferred, but Public supply wells are allowable. As for all other wells, a precise well location is required. If this cannot be supplied, the wells are not appropriate for the NGWMN.

We have older wells that need to be replaced. Could the current cooperative funding opportunity help with this?

Yes, drilling replacement wells is allowed under objective 5. 

How often do water-level monitoring sites need to be tested for water quality, if at all?

Water-level network sites do not necessarily ever need to be sampled. 

Do you have a preference if water-level and water-quality data are coming from the same well or are they considered independently?

They are generally separate networks. You could have a WL network and a WQ network that had wells that were completely different or some that overlap. The water-level and water-quality data could come from different agencies.

The USGS collects a lot of data in our state. Will we need to select data and wells that complement USGS data or should we classify and prioritize sites without regard to USGS data and wells?

The data from various agencies will all be combined to form a single network regardless of its’ source. State data providers are encouraged to work with the local USGS office when selecting wells for the network. We would not want to have two wells at essentially the same location just because one is measured by the USGS and one by a state agency. We want the best well available at a location, regardless of the source.

Can wells be offset 1 mile or do you need the exact location?

No, wells cannot be offset. We want the exact location. If you cannot do that, then that would be a reason not to include the well.  This is a reason some providers do not want to use public supply wells.

Would wells in areas of known nitrate contamination be suitable for this network?

Yes. Could help delineate usable areas of the aquifer. Would be classified as ‘Documented Changes’ in the network

Can the well registry be populated in batch mode?

Yes, there is information on the Well Registry Management System about this. A template spreadsheet is available and can be populated offline and then loaded into the Well Registry. This is only available for entry of new sites and cannot be used to make updates to sitee.

What are the requirements of measuring equipment such as tapes, pressure transducers, or data loggers?

Data collection guidelines are described in the Framework Document. No particular requirements are specified for equipment types.

Can springs be used in addition to wells?

Yes, springs can be included in the network. We currently serve water-quality data from springs.


For new data providers: What information is needed in proposal regarding existing wells presently being monitored besides location and aquifer (e.g. well construction logs, hydrographs or period of record for existing data, monitoring & telemetry equipment presently used, etc.)?

Don’t need all of that detail. At this point we really need the number of potential wells and an idea of how many might be suitable for the network. You will be selecting the wells for the network, not us. You don’t need a table of detailed data.

If I am a new data provider, can I apply for other objectives such a wells maintenance or well drilling?

If your proposal has you completing the new data provider objective in year one of your project, you can apply for either objective 2 or 3 in year two of your project. Objectives 4 and 5 cannot be part of a new data provider project.

 What is needed for the Data Management Plan?

Can be a maximum of 2 pages.

There are 5 required elements

Types of data
Data and Metadata standards
Policies for access and sharing      
Policies and provisions for re-use, re-distribution  
Plans for archiving and preservation of access 

Can you provide examples of Data Management Plans?

Yes, I can provide two examples. Neither are existing Data management Plans for the Network, but give an idea of what they could look like.
The first is a  generic Data Management Plan for the Network and describes all three types of data that might need to be discussed.

Do I need a letter of concurrence from the local USGS WSC?

If you are partnering with the local WSC on a Cooperative Matching Funds project where the USGS collects data and stores it in NWIS and are proposing work on objectives 3-5 as a data provider, you do need a letter of concurrence from the local WSC. They will likely need to do updates to their database as part of your work and we want them to be aware of your planned work. 

If you are collecting the data yourself, entering it into your own database, and making it available to the portal through web services, you do not need a letter of concurrence.


Why are three different budgets needed in the application?

The budget table in the SF-424A form is needed for We also need additional data on the entire project and each objective to make funding decisions. This data is not available in the SF-424A budget table. 

Are the spreadsheets used to make the example budgets available?

Yes, you can get them  here.

In-Kind Services

Can data-collection efforts be used as matching in-kind services?

Yes,  data collection at NGWMN that is conducted during the performance period of the project can be used as in-kind services. You will need to list the work in the budget for the objective you are applying for under the agency in-kind services.

In lieu of costs, can we use hours devoted to the field work/data entry and data QC if the work is done in house as part of the budget?

Yes you could use this as in-kind services, but we would like to see it specified as a cost not just as hours.

Can state agencies demonstrate in-kind services by funding contractors to the amount matched by USGS?

Yes, if the work that the contractor would be doing matches the objectives of the NGWMN Program Announcement. The work would need to be included in detail in the detailed budget for the objective.

Can analytical costs for water quality samples count towards cost-sharing?

Yes, if the analysis occurs during the performance period of the project.

Future Funding

We are not ready to join the Network at this time (for a variety of reasons). Will funding be available in future years to add new data providers?