National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Area-Characterization Toolbox

Release Date:


This is release 1.0 of the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Area-Characterization Toolbox. These tools are designed to be accessed using ArcGIS Desktop software (versions 9.3 and 9.3.1). The toolbox is composed of a collection of custom tools that implement geographic information system (GIS) techniques used by the NAWQA Program to characterize aquifer areas, drainage basins, and sampled wells.

These tools are built on top of standard functionality included in ArcGIS Desktop running at the ArcInfo license level. Most of the tools require a license for the ArcGIS Spatial Analyst extension.

ArcGIS is a commercial GIS software system produced by ESRI, Inc. ( The NAWQA Area-Characterization Toolbox is not supported by ESRI, Inc. or its technical support staff.

Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


This distribution consists of an ArcGIS "Toolbox" file ("NACT.tbx") with folders and files containing associated documentation, scripts, and data files. Specific documentation and example usage for each tool is included in the toolbox file and is accessible from within ArcGIS desktop applications (for example, ArcMap and ArcCatalog).

Tools in the toolbox include:

  • Areal Overlay Statistics toolset:
    • Area Statistics To Table
    • Feature Statistics To Table
    • Footprint Statistics To Table
  • Areal Overlay Weights toolset:
    • Area Weights To Table
    • Feature Weights To Table
    • Footprint Weights To Table
  • Areal Overlay Weights Analysis toolset:
    • Calculate Weighted Statistics
    • Partial Area Weights
    • Tabulate Weight Table
  • Point Overlay toolset:
    • Point Overlay Polygon To Table
    • Point Overlay Raster To Table
  • Selection and Area Processing toolset:
    • Aggregate Raster to Percent Grids
    • Shrink Polygon Area
    • Tabulate Features To Percent
    • Tabulate Footprints To Percent
    • Weed Points


These tools may be cited as follows:

Price, C. V., Nakagaki, Naomi, and Hitt, K. J., 2010, National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Area-Characterization Toolbox, Release 1.0: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1268. [online-only]

Installation Instructions

  1. Download the archive file "" to your computer.
  2. In a selected folder (for example, "C:\Tools"), unzip the downloaded file "" This will create a directory ("NACT") containing a collection of files and folders.
  3. You can now safely delete the zip file.
  4. At this point, you can use the toolbox in any ArcGIS desktop application using standard functionality.

    For your convenience, step-by-step instructions are provided below for adding the toolbox to ArcGIS 9.3 or 9.3.1. For more details and information about managing toolboxes within ArcGIS, see the ArcGIS online help article "Adding and Removing Toolboxes."

    a. Display the Toolbox window.

    From the running application's main menu, select "Window -> ArcToolbox." This should display the ArcToolbox window within the application window. Click the "Favorites" tab at the bottom of the ArcToolbox window to display the catalog tree of active toolboxes.

    b. Add "NACT.tbx" to the application.

    In the ArcToolbox window, right-click "ArcToolbox" and select "Add Toolbox" from the context menu that appears. Browse in the resulting dialog box to your folder ("C:\Tools\NACT") and select the file "NACT.tbx." Click the "Open" button.

Using The NAWQA Area-Characterization Toolbox

You can access the tools the same way standard ArcGIS tools are used: by double-clicking on the name of the tool, or right clicking the tool to access its properties or documentation. The tools also are accessible from the ArcGIS command line or from within scripts; examples are included in the documentation for each tool. (Documentation for each tool may be accessed by right-clicking the tool and selecting "Help" from the context menu.)

The persistence of the toolbox depends on the ArcGIS desktop application you were running while completing the above steps:

ArcMap, ArcScene, ArcGlobe 

If you save the current document, the reference to the toolbox will be saved as well, so the toolbox will still be available when the current document is opened at a later time.


Active toolboxes are saved when you exit ArcCatalog, so the toolbox will be available in future ArcCatalog sessions. The toolbox will also be included by default in new ArcMap, ArcScene, or ArcGlobe documents.