USGS Launches New Web Site for Nation's Water Data

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has unveiled its new WaterWatch website which gives visitors an instantaneous picture of water conditions nationwide in near real time. Through the use of USGS WaterWatch maps, the entire Nation’s current streamflow conditions, including high flood-flows and low drought-flows are depicted on maps with color-coded dots which represent conditions at about 3,000 streamgages. The WaterWatch website is available at

WaterWatch features a point-and-click interface allowing users to retrieve maps and graphs of real-time stage and discharge data for individual stations. From the National map, you can click on a state to find state data and click further to find near real-time data at an individual gage. This feature facilitates rapid assessment of both general and specific water-resources conditions. WaterWatch also serves as a geospatial front end to NWIS-Web, the USGS online National Water Information System that provides access via home or office computer to real-time and historical surface water, ground water and water quality data. Access to data (including real-time streamflow and historical flood peaks) via NWIS-Web can be obtained at

To provide users with a broad perspective on short-term and long-term streamflow conditions and variations, WaterWatch maps and graphs are organized into three distinct categories: realtime, daily,and 7-day average streamflow. The latter category is particularly useful for identifying regions undergoing prolonged wet and dry spells.

"We’re making our data easier to find and easier to use than ever, all with the click of a mouse," said Robert Hirsch, USGS associate director for water. "By putting our near real-time data on a map, even a new visitor to our website can quickly see water conditions nationally, and then with two clicks, find out about water conditions in his or her hometown."

USGS has provided real-time streamflow and historical streamflow data on the web for several years now. WaterWatch marks the first time it’s been combined with a geospatial or map-based front end. Users also can access our many other types of water data including historical water quality data from rivers and aquifers, historical ground water level data, and real-time water quality, precipitation and ground water levels.

WaterWatch and NWISWeb are integral parts of the USGS mission to disseminate important water-quality and quantity data to the public. These data can help water managers, engineers, scientists, emergency managers, recreational water users, utilities, etc. ,to:

* evaluate current water supplies and plan for future supplies,
* forecast floods and droughts,
* operate reservoirs for hydropower, flood control, or water supplies,
* evaluate and control water quality,
* navigate rivers and streams, and
* safely fish, canoe, kayak or raft.

Daily WaterWatch maps also can be viewed as animations. The daily maps are grouped into monthly animations dating back to June 1999. These animations provide a useful visual characterization of streamflow changes from day to day, particularly in depicting a river’s responses to intense precipitation, such as occurs during tropical storms and hurricanes. They also show the speed at which hydrologic drought can intensify along rivers and streams.

As the Nation’s science agency for natural resources, hazards and the environment, the USGS is committed to meeting the health, safety and knowledge needs of the changing world around us.

U.S. Geological Survey

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