On the 30th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Geological Survey has announced a new standardized web-searchable database of environmental methods that will allow scientists and managers monitoring water quality to compare data collection methods at a glance and find the method that best meets their needs. The tool also allows monitoring data to be shared among different agencies and organizations that use different methods at different times. This database was developed in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), and other partners in the federal, state, and private sectors.
Called NEMI? The National Environmental Methods Index, the tool is a free, web-based online clearinghouse of environmental monitoring methods. The NEMI database contains chemical, microbiological and radiochemical method summaries of lab and field protocols for regulatory and non-regulatory water quality analyses. It is searchable over the World Wide Web, providing up-to-date methods information through a standard Internet connection and browser. By visiting www.nemi.gov users can directly access current methods information. In the future, NEMI will be expanded to meet the needs of the monitoring community. For example, biological methods will be added to NEMI, along with additional field and laboratory methods of importance to the monitoring community.
NEMI is a powerful tool, providing a summary of the procedures and performance data needed to assess methods. Critical data on sensitivity, accuracy, precision, instrumentation, source and relative cost are produced as tabular reports, and full methods are linked to the summaries. Often, formats for gathering information on various methods involve a time consuming search through lengthy methods to distill bits of necessary information (e.g., what is the holding time? Is the precision and accuracy of the selected method adequate?). A few minutes with NEMI will provide answers to these questions, and more.