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Water Availability and Use Science Program (WAUSP) activities are conducted under the authority of various pieces of authorizing legislation. Many of the primary authorizations that allow the USGS and WAUSP to serve the American people are listed below, along with descriptions of either how the authorization relates to USGS or what WAUSP 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 WAUSP Activities

The OMNIBUS PUBLIC LAND MANAGEMENT ACT OF 2009 (SECURE Water, P.L. 111-11 42, U.S.C. 10367, 10368) authorizes the completion of a national brackish groundwater assessment and implementation of the national water availability and use assessment program and grant program to collect and improve State water use data. This is the primary authorization for the WAUSP. Under this direction, the USGS is providing information that supports resource managers in their assessment of the supply, use, and availability of the Nation’s water. Through the National Water Census (NWC), the USGS is developing nationally consistent indicators of availability for both surface and groundwater resources, predictive modeling tools that integrate groundwater, surface water, and ecological systems, developing statistical water use estimation techniques, and then integrating all these components to produce national estimates of water availability and evaluate the impact of human activity on water and ecological resources.

The UNITED STATES-MEXICO TRANSBOUNDARY AQUIFER ASSESSMENT ACT (P.L. 109-448; 42 U.S.C. 1962) directs DOI to consult and cooperate with "Participating States [Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona], the water resources research institutes, Sandia National Laboratories, and other appropriate entities in the United States and Mexico, and the IBWC, as appropriate, [to] carry out the United States-Mexico transboundary aquifer assessment program to characterize, map, and model priority transboundary aquifers along the United States-Mexico border". Those priority aquifers were identified in the language as the Hueco Bolson, Mesilla, Santa Cruz, and San Pedro. Referred to as the Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Project, the USGS is currently working with the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center (WRRC), New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI), and Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) to assess the extent, availability, and movement of water in transboundary aquifers.

Amends the 1992 law to add Section 3001, "Western Water Policy Review Act of 1992." Directs the President to undertake a comprehensive review of Federal activities in the 19 western States that directly or indirectly affect the allocation and use of resources, whether surface or subsurface. The Secretary of the Interior, "... given … responsibilities for … investigations and reviews into ground water resources through the Geologic Survey (now United States Geological Survey) ..." and the Secretary of the Army "have the resources to assist in a comprehensive review ....". The USGS conducts studies that support resource managers in their assessment of the supply, use, and availability of both surface and groundwater resources at the basin and aquifer scale.

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-BIA 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.