The National Network of Reference Watersheds

Science Center Objects

The National Network of Reference Watersheds is a collaborative and multipurpose network of minimally disturbed watersheds and monitoring sites. The purpose of this website is to allow users to search the NNRW database of reference watersheds, to identify watersheds of interest, and download watershed information and water quality data. The current scope of the network is limited to freshwat...

 

The National Network of Reference Watersheds is a collaborative and multipurpose network of minimally disturbed watersheds and monitoring sites. The purpose of this website is to allow users to search the NNRW database of reference watersheds, to identify watersheds of interest, and download watershed information and water quality data. The current scope of the network is limited to freshwater streams. Membership in the network is voluntary and open to individuals, agencies, and institutions interested in participating in monitoring and (or) research in minimally disturbed and pristine watersheds.

The NNRW defines reference watersheds as those minimally disturbed by human activity preferably in an area protected from human-induced changes. References watersheds can be used to measure changes in soil chemistry, vegetation, water quality, and biology through time as well as to compare to disturbed watersheds.

The network is currently composed mainly of U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency watersheds.  However, as the network expands watersheds will be added from other Federal, State, tribal, interstate, academic, local and private sector organizations that choose to participate.

Visit the NNRW website at: https://my.usgs.gov/nnrw/main/home

The "Watershed Search" section of the website allows users to search the entire network database. The database includes many types of reference watersheds; some are considered reference based on low hydrologic disturbance, others based on land use disturbance, and others based on water quality, stream biology, or some combination of criteria. Results of users searches can be placed into context with all watersheds in the database on cumulative frequency diagrams (fig. 1).

 

The "Core Watersheds" section of the website allows users to search a subset of the NNRW database that contains only the most pristine watersheds based on specific land use criteria.  Core watersheds also have stream discharge data available.

 

Select the "Core Watersheds" tab to explore the most pristine watersheds in the network or select the "Watershed Search" tab to search the entire NNRW database of reference watersheds and access data available for those sites.

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