Water Availability and Use Science Program: National Water Census

Science Center Objects

The USGS National Water Census (NWC) is designed to systematically provide information that will allow resource managers to assess the supply, use, and availability of the Nation’s water. The goal of the NWC is to provide nationally-consistent base layers of well-documented data that account for water availability and use nationally.

Components of a simple water budget for part of a watershed

Components of a simple water budget for part of a watershed.

The Water Availability and Use Science Program (WAUSP) supports this goal through work to understand and quantify the inputs, outputs, and changes in the water budget. The primary building blocks of the water budget are base layers of precipitation, streamflow, evapotranspiration (ET), water use, and change in groundwater storage. Measurements or estimates of water budget components provide a means for decision makers to evaluate the water available for human and ecological needs as well as where stresses to the budget exist or may develop. Ideally, the WAUSP seeks to provide estimates of selected water budget components that are compiled via the National Water Census at consistent spatial and temporal scales. Through development of advanced techniques and new accounting methods for the NWC components, the WAUSP strives to provide resource managers with more accurate and finer scale information to support near-real time, local management decisions related to water availability and use.

Collaboration is a critical part of the USGS National Water Census. It not only helps direct USGS efforts towards assessments that are most useful for end users – such as other Federal, State, regional, local, and tribal resource managers, but it also ensures that information produced by the USGS can be aggregated and assimilated with other types of physical, social, economic, and environmental data that affect water availability and use.

Read the report:  Continuing Progress Toward a National Asessment of Water Availability and Use

Interactive data visualization: Explore Water Budgets Across The United States

 

Image of a stream for the streamflow section of the National Water Census website

                           Streamflow

Image of an artesian well for the groundwater section of the National Water Census website

                          Groundwater

 

Image of agricultural irrigation for the water use section of the National Water Census website

                          Water Use

Image of bull trout for the environmental flows section of the National Water Census website

                      Environmental Flows

 

Map of evapotranspiration in the Colorado River Basin for the evapotranspiration section of the National Water Census website

                       Evapotranspiration

Map of study basins for the focus area studies section of the National Water Census website

                          Focus Area Studies