WaterNow

Science Center Objects

Current conditions for water data sent directly to your mobile phone or email. Send an email or text message containing a USGS streamgaging site number and quickly receive a reply with its most recent observations.

Getting started: what you need to know to send a query

1. USGS Site Number. This is a unique number that identifies a USGS gage or well site where you want to obtain data. You can find USGS sites collecting instantaneous measurements using the USGS National Water Information System Mapper (zoom in to filter by instantaneous data), WaterWatch (click on a state to access individual gage information), or the Water Data for the Nation site inventory.

Screenshot of places to find USGS site numbers in the NWIS Mapper and WaterWatch

2. Parameter code (optional). All water data types are represented by a 5-digit parameter code. The default WaterNow reply only returns the most popular data types: streamflow (00060) and/or stage (00065). But you can access additional data by requesting specific parameter codes, such as depth to water level (72019).  Simply include the parameter code(s) of your choice in your email or text message.

Some commonly available parameters:

Waterbody type Parameter code Parameter
Streams and springs 00060 Streamflow, in cubic feet per second
00065 Stage, in feet
Wells 72019 Depth to water level, in feet
72020 Water level elevation, in feet NVGD
62611 Water level elevation, in feet NAVD
Lakes 00065 Stage, in feet
72020 Water level elevation, in feet NVGD
Water quality  00010 Water temperature, in degrees Celsius
00095 Specific conductance, in microsiemens per centimeter
00300 Dissolved oxygen, in milligrams per liter
00400 pH

You can access a full list of the parameters being collected at your site of interest by visiting the USGS site page at the USGS Water Data for the Nation. Just use this URL structure: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=09380000 and substitute your site number for the "09380000" at the end of the URL. Scroll down a bit to the "Available Parameters" listing, and look for the 5-digit code at the beginning of the parameter name.

 

Using WaterNow by text message

Send a text message to waternow@usgs.gov containing the USGS site number you want to query, adding any optional parameter codes using the formats below. You will receive a response within a few minutes. Here are some examples:

Current streamflow and/or stage
Text message content: site number
WaterNow returns: streamflow and/or stage (if available, otherwise returns a list of available parameters)

Screenshot of a text message to WaterNow using a site number query

Single custom parameter
Text message content: site number [space] parameter
WaterNow returns: most recent parameter observation, if available
Note: Parameter codes are always 5 digits, so be sure to include any leading zeros (for example: "00010").

Screenshot of a text message to WaterNow using a site number and parameter code query

Multiple parameters
Text message content: site number [space] parameter,parameter, ...  (separate the parameters using commas with no spaces)
WaterNow returns: most recent observations for the multiple parameters requested (if available)
Note: Current MMS text messaging limits are 1,600 characters so queries and returns over that limit may be truncated into multiple messages.

Screenshot of a text message to WaterNow using a site number and multi-parameter query

All available parameters
Text message content: site number [space] *
WaterNow returns: most recent observations for all available parameters
Note: When querying all parameters, returned observations will be labeled by parameter code, not a text description of the parameter.

Screenshot of a text message to WaterNow using a site number and all-parameters query

 

 

Using WaterNow by email

Screenshot of WaterNow query email showing "To" and "Subject" fields

Interacting with WaterNow via email works very similarly to text messaging. Send an email to waternow@usgs.gov containing the USGS site number you want to query, adding any optional parameter codes using the formats below. You will receive a response within a few minutes.

Here are some examples:

Current streamflow and/or stage
Email subject line: site number
WaterNow returns: streamflow and/or stage (if available, otherwise returns a list of available parameters)

Example WaterNow return email:
01638500 09:45EST POTOMAC RIVER AT POINT OF ROCKS, MD
   00060 Discharge, cubic feet per second = 4910 0006
   Gage height, feet = 2.15

 

Single custom parameter
Email subject line: site number [space] parameter
WaterNow returns: most recent parameter observation, if available
Note: Parameter codes are always 5 digits, so be sure to include any leading zeros (for example: "00010").

Example WaterNow return email:
323313117033901 06:30PST 019S002W02C007S
   72019 Depth to water level, feet below land surface = 45.10

 

Multiple parameters
Email subject line: site number [space] parameter,parameter, ...  (separate the parameters using commas with no spaces)
WaterNow returns: most recent observations for the multiple parameters requested (if available)
Note: Current MMS text messaging limits are 1,600 characters so queries and returns over that limit may be truncated into multiple messages.)

Example WaterNow return email:
01608500 09:30EST SOUTH BRANCH POTOMAC RIVER NEAR SPRINGFIELD, WV
   00010 Temperature, water, degrees Celsius = 1.1
   00060 Discharge, cubic feet per second = 749

 

All available parameters
Email subject line: site number [space] *
WaterNow returns: most recent observations for all available parameters
Note: When querying all parameters, returned observations will be labeled by parameter code, not a text description of the parameter.

Example WaterNow return email:
01608500 11:30EDT SOUTH BRANCH POTOMAC RIVER NEAR SPRINGFIELD, WV
   00010 Temperature, water, degrees Celsius = 25.9
   00060 Discharge, cubic feet per second = 896
   00065 Gage height, feet = 2.63
   00095 Specific conductance, water, unfiltered, microsiemens per centimeter at 25 degrees Celsius = 225
   00300 Dissolved oxygen, water, unfiltered, milligrams per liter = 8.7
   00400 pH, water, unfiltered, field, standard units = 8.2