About the Washington Water Science Center

The USGS Washington Water Science Center is one of 28 Water Science Centers in the Water Mission Area of the U.S. Geological Survey. The Water Science Center's mission is to collect, analyze and disseminate the impartial hydrologic data and information needed to wisely manage water resources for the people of the United States and the State of Washington.

The USGS Washington Water Science Center is one of 28 Water Science Centers in the Water Mission Area of the U.S. Geological Survey. The Water Science Center's mission is to collect, analyze and disseminate the impartial hydrologic data and information needed to wisely manage water resources for the people of the United States and the State of Washington.

  • We operate local and statewide networks to collect high-quality data that define natural and human-induced hydrologic conditions.
  • We analyze hydrologic processes through investigations and research to increase understanding of important water-resource issues and to promote informed decision making.
  • We maintain real-time and historical data bases and publish peer-reviewed interpretive and data reports to disseminate unbiased hydrologic information.

To assure that our work is relevant and useful, we form partnerships with Federal, State, and local agencies, Native American governments, and other public organizations.

Funding for the USGS Washington Water Science Center comes from a variety of sources, including direct Federal appropriations, other Federal agencies, and a cooperative program that allows the USGS Washington Water Science Center to match funding with State and local agencies on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Information concerning USGS products and services can be obtained from:

The home page provides direct access to current and historical USGS streamflow data, a bibliography of USGS Washington Water Science Center reports, and much more about USGS operations in the state of Washington.

Data Collection

Basic hydrologic data collection, processing, analysis, dissemination, and archiving are major parts of the USGS Washington Water Science Center program. Streamflow data, for example, are used for flood and water-supply forecasts, planning and design, river regulation, streamflow statistics, and research investigations. Much of the data are available on a near-real-time basis by satellite telemetry. Types of data currently collected include:

  • Streamflow data for 260 gaging stations
  • Ground-water level data
  • Water-quality data for over 100 site
  • Stream-sediment transport data
  • Climate data

Data-Base Capabilities

USGS data are stored and maintained in long-term, quality-assured data bases. The data bases contain data for Washington and the rest of the nation and are accessible to the public. The data include:

  • Streamflow, reservoir, and lake data
  • Ground-water data
  • Continuous or discrete water-quality data
  • Water-use data
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) data

Investigations

The chief purpose of investigations is to help cooperating agencies solve water problems. For example, investigative results have been used to manage storm-water runoff, to develop ground-water management plans, and to identify areas of water-quality degradation. These investigations address many water issues:

  • Water-quantity and -quality assessments
  • Toxic substances in natural waters and biota
  • Rural and urban nonpoint pollution
  • Seawater intrusion
  • Surface water / ground water interactions
  • Sediment transport and chemistry
  • Effects of climate change
  • Wetland functions and hydrology
  • Aquifer and streamflow characterizations
  • Frequency and magnitude of droughts and floods

Analytical Techniques

The USGS Washington Water Science Center uses state-of-the-art as well as traditional methods that include quality assurance and quality control:

  • Watershed and ground-water modeling
  • Flood and low-flow frequency analysis
  • Sediment and chemical load determination
  • Aquifer testing
  • Aquatic testing
  • Aquatic community analysis
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Acoustic doppler velocity measurements
  • Ground-water age dating
  • Surface and borehole geophysics
  • Evapotranspiration analysis
  • Ground-water recharge modeling
  • Solute-transport modeling
  • Geochemical modeling
  • Ground-water flow modeling
  • Water, sediment, and tissue analysis

Samples are collected and analyzed for a wide range of constituents, including major inorganics, nutrients, trace elements, dissolved gases, pesticides, isotopes, organic solvents, petrochemicals, and biological indicators.