Summary of baseline standards for water-use data

Science Center Objects

The USGS has identified baseline goals (Tier 1) and additional levels of data (Tier 2 and Tier 3), for all major categories of water use. The current year Water-Use Data and Research (WUDR) Program Announcement provides the authoritative version of these standards. These guidelines are provided to assist State water-resource agencies in determining areas in which to focus proposed work.

Links to current and older WUDR Program Announcements may be found on the Proposals and Awards page.

In addition to the standards listed in the table, baseline goals (Tier 1) for most categories of water use include:

  1. Facility or system withdrawals for the following categories: Public Supply, Self-Supplied Industrial, Irrigation-Crop, Thermoelectric, Irrigation-Golf Course, Livestock (major facilities), Mining, and Aquaculture.
  2. Withdrawals, deliveries or returns by water source — groundwater, surface water, reclaimed wastewater, wastewater effluent, and/or recycled water. For groundwater sources the aquifer should be identified.
  3. Withdrawals by water type — fresh or saline

The definitions of basic water-use terms and categories as used by USGS can be found on the Water-Use Terminology page.

Baseline standards for water-use data

Category Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3
Public Supply
  • Monthly withdrawals, reported by system and water source and water type. 
  • Deliveries to domestic users from public-supply systems, and populations served.
  • Report system information relevant to HUC-8 and county, and groundwater withdrawals with aquifer designation.
  • Site-specific annual and monthly withdrawals (by intake and/or well or well field) reported by water source, and by water type.
  • Quantity of water purchased between systems and source(s) of water.
  • Quantity of water sold between systems.
  • Reporting and/or verification of water deliveries for domestic, commercial, industrial, thermoelectric, and other use.
  • Interbasin transfers.
  • System uses (internal and other non-revenue uses) and losses.
  • Improve population served estimates. 
  • Use of reclaimed wastewater for public or landscape irrigation.
  • Site-specific daily withdrawals (added June 2020). 
Industrial
  • Annual withdrawals by facility reported by water source, by water type, and industry classification.
  • Groundwater withdrawals reported with reference to aquifer.
  • Site-specific (by intake and/or well) annual and monthly withdrawals reported by water source, by water type, and industry classification.
  • Deliveries from public supply to industrial facilities, and deliveries from other sources, such as treated wastewater.
  • Site-specific daily withdrawals (added June 2020). 
  • Site-specific consumptive use estimates.
  • Site-specific discharges to surface water or land application.
Irrigation - Crop
  • Aggregate annual withdrawals reported by water source, by water type, acres irrigated, and method of irrigation.
  • Aggregate areas may be sub-county levels, but are feasible to summarize to county or watershed.
  • Site-specific withdrawals by well or diversion from surface-water feature, or delivery from reclaimed wastewater.  
  • Monthly withdrawals reported by water source, type, acres irrigated, crop, and method of irrigation.
  • Site-specific daily withdrawals (added June 2020). 
  • Consumptive use and conveyance loss estimates by aggregate area (sub-county, watershed (HUC8 or up to HUC12). 
  • Site-specific return flows.
Thermoelectric
  • Site-specific, annual and monthly withdrawals, and net power generation reported by cooling-system type (once-through or recirculating), by water source and by water type, and the source of the information (plant, govt. agency, etc.).
  • Site-specific return flows.
  • Site-specific annual and monthly consumptive use.
  • Site-specific daily withdrawals (added June 2020). 
Self-Supplied Domestic
  • Self-supplied domestic populations, by HUC8 and county, and by water source.
  • Studies of actual metered domestic withdrawals, monthly by source.
  • Improve estimates of self-supplied populations by utilizing property data and/or public water supply service areas, or other methods.
 
Irrigation - Golf Courses
  • Site-specific annual and monthly withdrawals reported by water source, by water type, and acres irrigated.
  • Groundwater withdrawals designated by aquifer.
  • Consumptive use estimates, by course, reported monthly or annually.
  • Acres irrigated by system type, by course.
 
Livestock
  • Annual withdrawals for major facilities, reported by water source and by water type.
  • Site-specific annual and monthly withdrawals for all facilities reported by source of water, and by water type.
  • Site-specific animal counts and animal type.
  • Improved and verified coefficients for water use per head for animal type, confined or open-range, seasonal variability, and other variables.
  • Water withdrawals from sources supported by USDA programs to protect streams.
Mining
  • Annual withdrawals reported by HUC-8 and county, by source of water, and by water type.
  • Site-specific annual and monthly withdrawals.
  • Site-specific commodity identified.
  • Evaluation/reporting on water use by process (commodity processing, dewatering, dust suppression, etc.).
  • Reporting on return flows/discharge of water from dewatering.
Aquaculture
  • Annual withdrawals reported by HUC-8 and county, by source of water, and by water type.
  • Site-specific annual and monthly withdrawals.
  • Site-specific facility information (method, species cultured, etc.)
 
Commercial
  • Annual and monthly deliveries from public supply for commercial use.
  • Site-specific annual and monthly withdrawals for self-supplied establishments.
 
Hydroelectric Power
  • Site-specific, annual and monthly water use (water use to spin turbines) by water source and water type, and the source of the information (plant, govt. agency, etc.).
   
Wastewater Treatment
  • Site-specific, annual and monthly return flows from public wastewater treatment and industrial facilities. 
  • Site-specific discharges to surface water or land application. 
 
Water-use database 
  • Monthly and annual withdrawal data are reported to the state agency and stored in an electronic format. 
  • Withdrawal data are entered electronically into a database.  Automatic QA/QC checks are integrated into the electronic database and/or data entry routines. 
  • Withdrawal data include water source, water type and location (county and HUC-12). Data are made available for export by the state agency or for download.