USGS Home Page

U.S. Geological Survey Manual

120.7 - Water Resources Division


OPR: Water Resources Division

1. General Functions. The Water Resources Division (WRD) investigates the occurrence, quantity, quality, distribution, uses, and movement of surface and ground waters to develop and disseminate scientific knowledge and understanding of the Nation's water resources. Its activities include resource assessment, research, and coordinating the activities of numerous other entities involved in water-resources research, data acquisition, or information transfer, which are carried out through specific Federal programs, or in cooperation with State and local governments or other Federal agencies.

Resource assessment activities of the Division include collecting data on the quantity, quality, and use of surface water (streams, lakes, reservoirs, estuaries, and glaciers) and ground water (including water in the unsaturated zone), and on the quality of precipitation; storing, disseminating, and interpreting these data, and publishing the results of the interpretations; developing and applying new methods of hydrologic data collection, analysis, and interpretation; conducting a really-focused interpretive hydrologic investigations and appraisals at national, regional, State, or local scales; and reporting regularly to the Nation on the overall status of water resources, and on hydrologic events and water-resource issues.

Research activities of the Division are designed to improve the overall understanding of the processes that affect the quantity and quality of waters. These include research on the pathways, rates of movement, chemical processes, and biological processes in the hydrologic cycle; chemical and biological factors of both natural and human origins that affect the resource; new strategies for data collection, analysis, and interpretation in light of new knowledge and evolving scientific capabilities; and improved methods of predicting the response of hydrologic systems to stresses, whether hydraulic or chemical, and whether of natural or human origin.

The Division is also responsible for the coordination of water-data acquisition activities of all Federal agencies (as mandated by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-67); the operation of Water Information Exchanges and Centers, which provide all interested parties with indexing and access to many sources of water data and information; and the administration of extramural water-resources research, technology development, academic training, and information-transfer programs mandated by the Water Resources Research Act (WRRA) of 1984 (P.L. 98-242), as amended by P.L. 101-397.)

2. Headquarters Organization. The Headquarters' organization of WRD in Reston, Virginia, includes (A) the Chief Hydrologist, the Associate Chief Hydrologist, and the Assistant Chief Hydrologists for (B) Operations, (C) Program Coordination and Technical Support, (D) Research and External Coordination, (E) Scientific Information Management, and (F) Water Assessment and Data Coordination. (See organizational chart.)

A. The Chief Hydrologist and the Associate Chief Hydrologist exercise the authority delegated by the Director for the planning, execution, and evaluation of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hydrologic programs and for the scheduling and production of related reports and publications.

B. The Assistant Chief Hydrologist for Operations exercises principal responsibility for the establishment of divisionwide policy on budgetary, accounting, human resource, and program support matters. Directs the Federal Data Collection Program and instrumentation development efforts including satellite data-relay activities. Manages the Division's human resource activities and oversees centralized administrative and management-support functions. Manages the budgets of the Federal-State Cooperative Program and the Technical Support Program. Serves as primary advisor and consultant to the Chief Hydrologist, Associate Chief Hydrologist, Assistant Chief Hydrologists, and other Division managers as required on administrative and management activities of the Division. Provides direction and guidance to the following organizational units:

(1) The Branch of Administrative Services provides advice and consultation to management on administrative programs which support the operation of Division mission programs. These programs include budget execution, financial accounting, management analysis, acquisition management, property management, internal control systems management, and audit coordination. The Branch develops administrative policies, procedures, and systems to be implemented on a divisionwide basis. The Branch also provides training and technical assistance and support to field offices. There are two subordinate organizational components within the Branch. The Financial Operations and Reporting Section develops policies and guidelines for financial management functions; performs functions identified with the budget cycle; maintains the computerized fiscal accounting systems; and provides field support services for operating budget and fiscal accounting functions. The Section also reports on the Division's debt collection activity with responsibility for implementing debt reduction goals and developing systems to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of debt collection practices. The General Services Section is responsible for the development of policies, programs, and guidelines for the general management programs related to paperwork, mail, property, and fleet management. The Section provides administrative services for offices located at Headquarters and assists the field offices in all program areas.

(2) The Branch of Operational Support provides regional, field, and project offices assistance, guidance, and information on technical and administrative matters related to program execution, recommends and interprets policy concerning field operation, and provides guidance for operational improvement to meet Division objectives more efficiently and effectively. The Branch is the principal advisor to Division management in matters related to the execution of the Federal Program of Collection of Basic Records of WRD, ensuring that Division priorities for data collection are met within the Federal funds allotted; serves as the Division focal point for the Corps of Engineers Cooperative Streamgaging program and coordinates the transfer of funding with the Corps; coordinates work on international waterways required by the international Joint Commission and provides staff assistance to the Chief Hydrologist on matters related to international waters; maintains and develops an effective safety program and monitors Division activities on-site for compliance with safety regulations and directives; provides assistance to Division personnel on the preparation of specifications and other procurement documents; and maintains information on the number of hydrologic stations operated by USGS.

(3) The Branch of Planning Support provides advice and consultation to Division officials on broad phases of planning of programs as they interrelate with the preparation of budget documents, including program descriptions and multiyear funding plans required in the annual budgeting sequence, and develops planning procedures and guidelines to assist in the detailed planning activities conducted by Division Headquarters staff members, Regional Hydrologists, and District and Project Chiefs.

(4) The Branch of Human Resources Management Support evaluates staffing patterns and needs for redistribution of human resources and recruitment of technical and support personnel; analyzes organizational structure and recommends changes to meet mission requirements more efficiently; inventories existing skills and training needs based on present and future programs; and develops specialized training to meet program requirements. The Branch provides advice to supervisors on human resource management responsibilities and regulations and develops and interprets policy on recruiting, staffing, position classification, employee development, incentive awards, pay management, disciplinary actions, troubled employee counseling, performance appraisal, labor management relations, and equal opportunity. The Branch manages the Division's automated Career Documentation Profile and serves as a focal point in the Division on matters of national security.

(5) The Branch of Instrumentation provides support to Division management in the development and provision of hydrological instrumentation. The Branch responsibilities are divided between two major activities. The Data Relay Project coordinates the development and operation of communications technology for the collection of hydrologic data through Earth orbiting satellites, and the provision of such data to the Division's automated data processing systems. The second activity is coordination of the Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility which is responsible for the development, repair and supply of a broad range of hydrologic data-collection equipment to Division districts nationwide. The Branch maintains liaison with other agencies and the private sector in the development of new data collection instrumentation technology.

(6) The Branch of Administrative Management Systems provides for the selection, development, adaptation, and enhancement of all the administrative systems software for the Division including utilities, and data management systems. The Branch has the overall responsibility for administrative system design projects requiring collaboration with the other divisions in USGS, the WRD districts and regions, and the various offices within the Office of the Assistant Chief Hydrologist for Operations. Also provides consultation on administrative, operational software systems which need revision and modification, and conducts feasibility studies of the current data base applications.

C. The Assistant Chief Hydrologist for Program Coordination and Technical Support exercises principal responsibility for the planning and development of integrated national programs of hydrologic investigations. Provides technical ad vice and support to the Division, including direction of quality-assurance efforts for scientific and data-collection activities; oversees the development of new approaches and methodologies; and provides oversight of hydrologic training programs. Provides direction and guidance to the following organizational units:

(1) The Office of Ground Water provides divisionwide leadership in the development of techniques for the collection, analysis, and interpretation of ground-water data. Provides policy advice to the Chief Hydrologist and technical advice to the Regional Hydrologists and District supervisors on matters pertaining to the Nation's ground-water resources. Maintains a system of quality control to assure the technical excellence of field programs and personnel with respect to ground water. Responsible for technology transfer from the research program to the Division's ground-water data and investigative activities throughout the Nation. Participates in the establishment of priorities for ground-water research.

The Branch of Nuclear Waste Hydrology reports to the Chief, Office of Ground Water and provides technical direction and coordination to the handling and disposal of radioactive materials and their impact on the geohydrologic environment. Activities are nationwide in scope but exclude direct management of investigations relating to nuclear waste disposal on or near the Nevada Test Site. The Branch provides specialized consulting services to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other Federal agencies on the hydrologic or geologic aspects of the use, development, and management of radioactive materials. It supports the Bureau's key role in accordance with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 in the national high-level nuclear waste repository program led by DOE. It also has responsibility for providing earth-science information, and technical assistance to states and other Federal agencies in the management of low-level nuclear waste.

(2) The Office of Water Quality provides divisionwide leadership in the development of techniques for the collection, analysis, and interpretation of water-quality data. Provides policy advice to the Chief Hydrologist, and technical advice to the Regional Hydrologists and District supervisors on matters pertaining to the quality of the Nation's water resources. Maintains a system of quality control to assure the technical excellence of field programs and personnel with respect to quality of water. Responsible for technology transfer from the research program to the Division's water-quality data and investigative activities throughout the Nation. Participates in the establishment of priorities for water- quality research.

The Branch of Analytical Services reports to the Chief, Office of Water Quality and is the focal point for water-quality laboratory analytical services within the Division. It directs methods development and technology transfer activities; manages laboratory operations; provides liaison with other commercial, private and Government laboratories; and develops, monitors and evaluates laboratory analytical service contracts, ensuring adherence to quality control standards.

(3) The Office of Surface Water provides divisionwide leadership in the development of techniques for the collection, analysis, and interpretation of surface-water data. Provides policy-level advice to the Chief Hydrologist and technical advice to the Regional Hydrologists and District supervisors on matters pertaining to the Nation's surface-water resources. Maintains a system of quality control to assure the technical excellence of field programs and personnel with respect to surface water. Responsible for technology transfer from the research program to the Division's surface-water data and investigative activities throughout the Nation. The Hydrologic Analysis Support Section in this office is responsible for the development, support, maintenance, and quality assurance of software used in the analysis of hydrologic data. The office also participates in the establishment of priorities for surface-water research.

(4) The Office of Atmospheric Deposition Analysis carries out Bureau responsibilities under the Energy Security Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-294) as modified by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (P.L. 101-549). Manages the program related to wet-deposition monitoring, sensitive surface-water monitoring, and research on processes by which atmospheric deposition affects hydrologic systems and cultural materials. Provides policy and technical guidance to Bureau officials on matters pertaining to atmospheric deposition. Serves as liaison with other Government agencies and cooperators involved in acid precipitation related programs. Furnishes Congress, policy makers, and managers with scientific information in support of natural resources and environmental pollution policy formulation. Serves, as requested, as departmental representative on interagency committees concerned with acid-precipitation issues.

(5) The Deputy Assistant Chief Hydrologist for National Water-Quality Assessment provides divisionwide leadership in the implementation of the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. Manages the NAWQA Program to meet its goals of describing the status and trends in the quality of a large representative part of the Nation's ground and surface-water resources, and developing an understanding of the natural and human factors affecting the quality of these resources. Provides sound nationally consistent water-quality information upon which water-resources decision making at all governmental levels can be based. Integrates water-quality information at local, regional, and national scales to address a wide range of major water-quality issues.

The following Branches report directly to the Assistant Chief Hydrologist for Program Coordination and Technical Support:

The Branch of Systems Analysis provides divisionwide leadership in the application of the techniques of systems analysis to hydrologic problems and in the inter-relationships between hydrology and socioeconomics. Provides technical advice to regional and district staffs on statistical and deterministic approaches to data interpretation. Conducts independent evaluations of the efficiency of the Division's operations and the effectiveness of its products. Applies decision theory and other techniques to assist Division management in the most efficient use of resources to achieve scientific goals.

The Yucca Mountain Project Branch provides broad technical direction and coordination for all USGS investigations aimed at determining the geologic and hydrologic characteristics and suitability of candidate locations for mined nuclear-waste repositories at and near the Nevada Test Site. The Branch also provides technical guidance to the DOE Nevada Operations Office and its contractors concerning geologic and hydrologic aspects of repository-site evaluation.

The Branch of Water-Use Information is responsible for the leadership and direction of the National Water-Use Information Program of the USGS and develops and manages the Program in cooperation with municipal, State, and Federal agencies. In addition, the Branch provides technical guidance and support to about 50 hydrologists engaged in implementation of the Program throughout the Division.

The Branch of Quality Assurance is responsible for preparing recommendations and guidelines to develop a quality assurance program for the Water Resources Division. Provides technical advice and guidance on quality assurance, quality control, and quality improvement concepts within the Division. This includes the development of plans, documentation, evaluation, monitoring, and training for quality-oriented issues associated with field-related activities, laboratory performance, and the handling and storage of data.

D. The Assistant Chief Hydrologist for Research and External Coordination exercises principal responsibility for the planning and development of national research programs, both in-house and those required by the provisions of the Water Resources Research Act (WRRA) of 1984 (P.L. 98-242), as amended, and directs the international aspects of research and investigative programs. In carrying out these responsibilities, provides direction and guidance to the following organizational units:

(1) The Office of Hydrologic Research develops policy governing the research work performed by the Division, identifies priorities in the water-resources field that should be included in programming and planning for the Division's research, oversees the execution of research according to priorities, and evaluates the final products. The Chiefs of the three Branches of Regional Research report to the Chief, Office of Hydrologic Research. (Description of the Branches of Regional Research is under Field Organization, 120.7.3D.)

(2) The Office of External Research administers the State Water Resources Research Institute Program and the Water Resources Research Grant Program authorized by Sections 104 and 105, respectively, of the WRRA of 1984, as amended. Under Section 104, responsibilities include technical review of the annual program plans and annual completion reports of the Water Resources Research Institutes and periodic evaluation of each Institute to determine its eligibility to receive Federal grants under Section 104. Under Section 105, responsibilities include solicitation and technical review of research proposals, selection of research proposals to be awarded grants, monitoring of research conducted under the grants, and review and approval of completion reports.

E. The Assistant Chief Hydrologist for Scientific Information Management provides policy advice and support to programs related to the production and dissemination of water data and of scientific and general interest publications and to the use of automated information systems. Develops methods and procedures for processing, storing, retrieving, and disseminating water data collected by the Division's field organization and manages the computerized Distributed Information System (DIS) and the National Water Information System (NWIS). Manages and operates activities such as the National Water Data Exchange (NAWDEX) and the Water Resources Scientific Information Center (WRSIC) which assist users in determining the availability of water data and related information from the Government at large. Oversees the Division's program for the acquisition and dissemination of information on the Nation's use of water. Manages, evaluates, improves, and demonstrates information transfer mechanisms, and develops new mechanisms and products. Coordinates Bureau activities related to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) including review of NEPA documents prepared by other agencies, preparation of contributions to Environmental Impact Statements, and development of environmental policy under NEPA. Provides direction and guidance to the following organizational units:

(1) The Branch of Scientific Publications is responsible for reviewing and approving technical publications, providing guidance on preparing and processing technical reports, managing report printing and distribution, enunciating publications policy, responding to public inquiries, and preparing documents and graphics related to WRD activities for use by Division management.

(2) The Branch of Computer Technology is responsible for the design, installation, maintenance, and operation of the national DIS; for providing technical guidance to the Division's operating programs in the use of computer technology; for managing the national water data base resident in the NWIS; and for developing new data-management methods and techniques.

(3) The Branch of Water Information Transfer is responsible for the development and operation of user-services programs for the transfer of water data and information from within and outside the USGS to the user community, including management of the NAWDEX, WRSIC, and information transfer assistance throughout the Division. The Branch is responsible for coordination and review of USGS activities related to compliance with NEPA.

F. The Assistant Chief Hydrologist for Water Assessment and Data Coordination exercises principal responsibility for facilitating the development and formulation of Water Resources Division long-range plans to meet emerging water problems. Assists program managers to establish program goals and objectives and coordinate program activities with other Federal agencies. Administers the Division's Water Resources Assessment program which includes publication of the National Water Summary, and oversees the coordination of water-data acquisition activities as called for by Office of Management and Budget Circular A-67. Provides policy direction and guidance to the following organizational units:

(1) The Office of Water Data Coordination provides overall leadership for implementing OMB Circular A-67. "Coordination of Federal activities in the acquisition of certain water data." The Office conducts special studies and interagency activities to identify water-data requirements; improve coordination procedures; and obtain information needed to evaluate, plan, and design the national water-data networks. The Office acquires, evaluates, and distributes information on existing and proposed legislation which relates to water-resources programs and plans. Responsibilities include providing the lead role in coordinating water-related activities among Federal and non-Federal organizations at the national level. The Office provides executive secretariat for water-data advisory committees and advises the Division, Bureau, Department, and OMB on water-data activities and plans.

(2) The Branch of National Water Summary (BNWS) is responsible for administering the Water Resources Division's Water Resources Assessment program. This program includes the preparation of a biannual National Water Summary, the preparation of maps and reports that summarize water conditions and trends, and the conduct of special assessment studies for the Division and for other Federal agency programs. The Branch also maintains an interpretive water-information system containing information used to prepare reports and answer information requests. Through the Office of Water Data Coordination, the BNWS maintains close working relations with other Federal, State, and private organizations engaged in assessments of the Nation's water resources, and, within budgetary constraints, seeks to provide water-resources information to support various assessment activities. The Branch also cooperates with other agencies in sponsoring studies of factors which affect the future needs of society for water. The results of these and other studies are periodically summarized for use in planning the Division's programs.

3. Field Organization.

A. The field organization of the Division consists of regions, each headed by a Regional Hydrologist and embracing the following geographic areas:

(1) Western Region (headquartered at Menlo Park, California). The States of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington; and Guam, Samoa, and other Pacific Islands.

(2) Central Region (headquartered at Lakewood, Colorado). The States of Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming.

(3) Southeastern Region (headquartered at Norcross, Georgia). The States of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee; and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

(4) Northeastern Region (headquartered in Reston, Virginia). The States of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

B. Regional Hydrologists. Each Regional Hydrologist, with line authority from the Chief Hydrologist, has the following responsibilities:

(1) Directs operational functions of regional water-resources programs and projects, as well as administrative activities incident thereto, in accordance with programs, policies, objectives, and standards established by the Chief Hydrologist and staff.

(2) Serves as Division representative on the Survey Committee for the Region and acts as advisor to USGS representatives on Departmental field committees and on interagency groups in the region.

(3) Represents the Chief Hydrologist in negotiations and dealings with other organizations and committees within and outside the USGS on external matters of com mon concern to the Division and, on such matters, has wide latitude for the exercise of in dependent judgment.

(4) As Division line officer, reviews programs and project proposals originating within the region and makes recommendations to the Chief Hydrologist.

(5) Acts as special liaison officer for the Division with scientific and technical societies in the region and with agency representatives to assure mutual understanding of objectives, policies and programs.

C. Field Offices. The Regional Hydrologists exercise line direction over all field offices within their particular region. Division operations carried out in field offices located in each state include: hydrologic data collection; preparation of research reports and conduct of investigations on various phases of the hydrologic cycle (surface water, ground water, water quality, and precipitation); and management and conduct of cooperative hydrologic studies with State and local water agencies. The field offices vary in size depending on the number and nature of programs and functions performed.

Operations are carried out through District Offices, each headed by a Chief. Each district typically has one or more subdistricts and field offices that report to the District Chief. District Chiefs are responsible for the planning, direction, and execution of the hydrologic data collection, investigations, and research in the district. The District Chief maintains a staff of professional scientific and technical personnel who conduct these activities.

D. Branches of Regional Research. Each Chief, Branch of Regional Research, represents the Chief of the Office of Hydrologic Research in the technical direction of the mission-related research activities in the region. Plans, develops, and guides original research and continuing research programs to provide knowledge in areas of deficiency. Provides direct supervision to mission-related research projects in the region. Promotes the incorporation of new findings and concepts into general Division programs and interacts closely with the Regional Hydrologist and staff to assure effective linkage between the National Research Program and other Division programs.

Return to Survey Manual Table of Contents
Return to Survey Manual Index
Return to Survey Manual Home Page
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA
Contact: APS, Office of Policy and Analysis
Last modification: 19-Dec-2012@10:41 (kk)
Privacy Statement