A new era of increased groundwater data coordination and collection has taken off in the U.S. to better inform water resource manager decisions, according to the National Ground Water Association (NGWA).

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently invited applications for up to $2 million in cost-share grants, or cooperative agreements, to support participation in the National Ground-Water Monitoring Network (NGWMN) in 2016. Interested agencies may apply online at www.grants.gov under funding opportunity number G16AS00008. Applications will be accepted through Jan. 19, 2016.

The money allows USGS to provide funds to upgrade nonfederal monitoring networks to national standards and to incorporate wells into the network. The funding also will support additional work by USGS to manage the network and provide data access to the public through an Internet web portal.

The network will rely on states to collect and report monitoring data. This data will be used to generate a more comprehensive picture of groundwater on a national scale. With increased pressure on water resources, particularly in the West, the implementation of the NGWMN will help inform good management of groundwater supplies across the country. NGWA calls this an important initiative to the continued use of water wells as a source of safe drinking water for millions of Americans.

The USGS is working with the Federal Advisory Committee on Water Information’s Subcommittee on Ground Water to develop and administer the NGWMN. The NGWMN was established with the support of NGWA and other organizations.

NGWA is a nonprofit that supports responsible development, management and use of water resources. It’s comprised of groundwater professionals ranging from contractors to equipment manufacturers to scientists and engineers. For more information, visit www.ngwa.org.