Coastal waters in the United States consist of a variety of habitats, including estuaries, bays, sounds, coastal wetlands, coral reefs, intertidal zones, mangrove and kelp forests, seagrass meadows, and coastal ocean and upwelling areas (i.e., deep water rising to surface). These coastal areas encompass a wide diversity of ecosystems that result from the tidal exchanges that occur between freshwater rivers and saline ocean waters within coastal estuaries. Coastal habitats provide spawning grounds, nursery areas, shelter, and food sources critical for the survival of finfish, shellfish, birds, and other wildlife populations that contribute substantially to the economic health of our nation. Section 305(b) of the Clean Water Act requires that the states report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and that the EPA report to Congress on the condition of the nations waters, including coastal waters. As part of this process, coastal states provide valuable information about the condition of their coastal resources to the EPA; however, because the individual states use a variety of approaches for data collection and evaluation, it has been difficult to compare this information among states or on a national basis.