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Progress toward a National Water Census

June 22, 2015

Increasing demand and competition for limited regional water resources make it difficult to ensure adequate water availability for both human and ecological needs now and into the future. Recognizing the need to improve the tools and information that are available to effectively evaluate water-resource availability, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) identified a National Water Census (NWC) as one of its six core science directions for the decade 2007–17. In 2009, the SECURE Water Act (Public Law 111–11) authorized the USGS to develop a national water availability and use assessment program that would update the most recent national assessment of the status of water resources in the United States as well as develop the science to improve forecasts of water availability and quality for future needs.

By evaluating large-scale effects of changes in land use and land cover, water use, and climate on occurrence and distribution of water, water quality, and human and aquatic-ecosystem health, the NWC will also help to inform a broader initiative by the Department of the Interior, WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America's Resources for Tomorrow), which provides multiagency funding to pursue a sustainable water supply for the Nation as directed under the SECURE Water Act. Through the NWC, the USGS actively engages Federal, regional, and local stakeholders to identify research priorities and leverages current studies and program activities to provide information that is relevant at both the national and regional scales.

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