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Groundwater and Streamflow Information Program (GWSIP) activities are conducted under the authority of various pieces of authorizing legislation. Many of the primary authorizations that allow the USGS and GWSIP to serve the American people are listed below, along with descriptions of either how the authorization relates to USGS or what GWSIP activities are performed under a particular authorization.


General USGS Authorizations

The ORGANIC ACT OF MARCH 3, 1879, (43 U.S.C. 31 et seq.) that established the Geological Survey, as amended (1962); and restated in annual appropriation acts. This section provides, among others, that the Geological Survey is directed to classify the public lands and examine the geological structure, mineral resources, and products within and outside the national domain. This section also establishes the Office of the Director of the Geological Survey, under the Interior Department. The Director is appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. P.L. 102-285 Sec. 10(a) establishes United States Geological Survey as its official name. This is the original authorizing language to establish the USGS.

The ECONOMY ACT OF 1932, as amended (31 U.S.C. 1535) authorizes any agency to obtain goods and services from and reimburse any other agency if certain criteria are met. With over $100M in reimbursable work for other federal agencies each year, this is the underlying authorization that enables such agreements.

43 U.S.C. 50 - The share of the Geological Survey in any topographic mapping or water resources investigations carried on in cooperation with any State or municipality shall not exceed 50 per centum of the cost thereof. This authorization guides USGS implementation of their Cooperative Matching Funds as they are used to partner with over 1,600 State, regional, and local agencies.


Authorizations for Specific GWSIP Activities

The OMNIBUS PUBLIC LAND MANAGEMENT ACT OF 2009 (SECURE Water, P.L. 111-11 42, U.S.C. 10367, 10368) authorizes the implementation of the national streamflow information program (more than 4,700 federal priority streamgages) and development of a systematic groundwater monitoring program for each major aquifer system. The USGS works with various partners to support Federal Priority Streamgages Network and reach the mandated goal of “more than 4,700” streamgages. Furthermore, the USGS currently works in collaboration with States, tribes, and localities to monitor groundwater levels through the National Groundwater Monitoring Network.

The WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 1986 (42 U.S.C. 10301) authorizes and directs the USGS, in cooperation with the States of the High Plains region, to monitor the levels of the Ogallala aquifer, and report biennially to Congress. In response to this legislation, the USGS provides a water-level compilation report, as well as maps and reports on the water-level changes and changes in water storage, every two years to Congress and the public.

The UPPER MISSISSIPPI RIVER MANAGEMENT ACT OF 1986 (33 U.S.C. 652) authorizes a program for cooperative effort and mutual assistance for use, protection, growth, and development of the Upper Mississippi River system; and implementation of a long-term resource monitoring program and applied research program, including research on water quality issues affecting the Mississippi River (including elevated nutrient levels) and the development of remediation strategies. Under this authority, the USGS works with the Army Corps of Engineers to support streamgages throughout the Upper Mississippi River Basin to monitor streamflow and flood inundation.

The DISASTER RELIEF ACT OF 1974 (P.L. 93-288; 42 U.S.C. 5121, 5132) states that "The President shall ensure that all appropriate Federal agencies are prepared to issue warnings of disasters to State and local officials." In addition, “the President shall direct appropriate Federal agencies to provide technical assistance to State and local governments to ensure that timely and effective disaster warning is provided." The USGS works closely with Federal, State, tribal, and local partners to monitor streamflow, document hurricane-induced storm surge, waves, and tides, and provide flood inundation maps and models. These tools are are used for flood forecasting, response, and mitigation by emergency management officials at local, State, tribal, and Federal levels.

The KLAMATH BASIN WATER SUPPLY ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2000 (P.L. 106–498) authorizes the Bureau of Reclamation to conduct feasibility studies to augment water supplies for the Klamath Project, Oregon and California, and for other purposes. The Secretary of the Interior is directed to complete ongoing hydrologic surveys in the Klamath River Basin that are currently being conducted by the USGS. Since 1992, USGS scientists have conducted hydrological research on many of the factors affecting Klamath Basin water resources. These studies include water-quality and quantity issues and decreased water supply to wetland areas in National Wildlife Refuges.

The ALASKA NATIONAL INTEREST LANDS CONSERVATION ACT OF 1980 ( P.L. 96-487; 16 U.S.C. 3141 et seq.) provides for a comprehensive and continuing inventory and assessment of the fish and wildlife resources of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Specifically the language states that the USGS "has made and may be called upon to make water studies pertinent to  implementation of the Act." The USGS works with many partners to monitor and assess the water resources in Alaska.

16 U.S.C. 797(a)(c) - Section 797(a) authorizes Federal Energy Regulatory Commission investigations and data collection concerning the utilization of the water resources of any region to be developed. Section 797(c) directs the FERC “to cooperate with the executive departments and other agencies of States or National Governments in such investigations; and for such purposes the several departments and agencies of the National Government are authorized and directed upon the request of the commission, to furnish such records, papers and information in their possession as may be requested by the commission, and temporarily to detail to the commission such officers or experts as may be necessary in such investigations." The Water Resources Mission Area provides critical data and interpretations related to water-quantity and water-quality for agencies to meet their FERC permitting requirements.

The ENERGY REORGANIZATION ACT OF 1974 (P.L. 93–438; 42 U.S.C. 5845(c)) Directs all Federal agencies to "... (2)... furnish to the (Nuclear Regulatory) Commission... such research services... for the performance of its functions; and (3) consult and cooperate with the Commission on research development matters of mutual interest and provide such information and physical access to its facilities as will assist the Commission in acquiring the expertise necessary to perform its licensing and related regulatory functions." The USGS works with the NRC to install streamgages to detect potential flooding issues and ensure adequate water supply to support water cooling.

The TRIBAL SELF-GOVERNANCE ACT OF 1994 (P.L. 103-413; 25 U.S.C. 450 et seq.) requires that DOI publish an annual list of non-Bureau of Indian Affairs programs, services, functions, and activities, or portions thereof, that are eligible for inclusion in agreements negotiated under DOI’s self-governance program. The USGS collects water quality samples, monitors streamflow, and conducts water resource assessments in support of tribal water resource decisions.