As a regulatory agency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with the mission to set environmental policy, obtain funds for research and development, and evaluate the efficacy of environmental regulations in preserving the Nation's natural resources. EPA's National Coastal Assessment (Coastal 2000 or C2000) is a five-year effort led by EPA's Office of Research and Development to evaluate the assessment methods it has developed to advance the science of ecosystem condition monitoring. C2000 represents the current state of evolution of EPA's Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP). EMAP was originally designed to provide a quantitative assessment of the regional extent of environmental problems by measuring status and change in selected indicators of ecological condition. EMAP provides a strategy to identify and bound the extent, magnitude, and location of environmental degradation and improvement on a regional scale. Beginning in the year 2000, C2000 will attempt to assess the condition of the Nation's estuarine waters through statistically valid sub-sampling. Whereas the original EMAP effort was conducted primarily by EPA and contract staff, C2000 is being implemented in partnership with the 24 coastal states. This partnership recognizes that each of these entities plays an important role in estuarine monitoring. Wherever possible, existing state monitoring programs are being incorporated into the C2000 design. This provides for the maximum utilization of a limited budget, and the flexibility of allowing states to often 'continue doing what they've been doing.' Many of these state programs have been in existence for many years, providing a basis for possible C2000 trends analyses. Each state will conduct the survey and assess the condition of their coastal resources independently. These estimates will then be aggregated to assess the condition at EPA Regional, bio-geographical, and National levels. Through this partnership EPA hopes to build infrastructure within the coastal states to improve, and make more intercomparable, the multitude of estuarine monitoring programs throughout the country.