Groundwater and Streamflow Information Program

Current Budget Justification


Monitoring networks that generate hydrologic data are the foundation of situational awareness and understanding the Nation’s water resources. The Groundwater and Streamflow Information Program (GWSIP) encompasses the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Water Resources Mission Area’s (WMA) objectives to collect, manage, and disseminate consistently high-quality and reliable hydrologic information in real-time and over the long-term, which are both critical for managing our Nation’s water resources and anticipating and responding to water hazards that can result in loss of life and property.

The GWSIP serves as the national source of impartial, timely, quality-assured, and relevant data for short- and long-term water decisions by local, State, tribal, regional, and national stakeholders. The GWSIP is increasingly using integrated monitoring for multiple parameters at a single location providing continuous real-time water data used for decisions such as emergency response, flood forecasting, reservoir management, water use restrictions, drinking water deliveries, permit compliance, water-quality studies, and recreational safety. The long-term data supplied by the program are used for decisions such as water-supply planning; aquifer storage and recovery; infrastructure design; floodplain and ecosystem management; energy development; and resolution of water disputes. Access to water information is increasingly more critical as climate patterns, land use, and population change, increase the challenges of managing competing water priorities.

Major GWSIP activities include:

  • Tribes: Indian Water Rights Settlements: Although the USGS is not directly involved with Indian Water Rights negotiations and settlements, the GWSIP does provide technical information needed to support water rights settlement work. In addition, USGS scientists work closely with tribal leaders around the Country to address water availability issues related to the quantity and quality of water on tribal lands.
  • National Groundwater Monitoring Network: The USGS works in collaboration with States, Tribes, and localities to monitor groundwater levels that help to increase understanding of groundwater flow and help evaluate the vulnerability of humans and livestock to potential groundwater contamination. The High Plains Aquifer Water-Level Monitoring Study is included in this activity.
  • Federal Priority Streamgages (FPS): The FPS used to be known as the National Streamflow Information Program or NSIP. The FPS is a network of streamgages which are considered critical for long-term tracking and forecasting/modeling to ensure Federal water priorities and responsibilities can be met, such as forecasting hydrologic events (floods and droughts); managing interstate agreements, compacts, court decrees, and other legal obligations; and tracking streamflow in major river basins and across borders. The FPS is designed with five goals, one of which is to provide a "backbone" or core streamgage network that is critical to national streamflow information needs and that would be funded totally with Federal funds. At present (2018), FPS are supported through a combination of Federal and partner funding—less than one-quarter of the gages are fully funded by the USGS.
  • Streamgages - Capital Costs: The funding item is associated with the Next Generation Water Observing System pilot project, which was stood up in the Delaware River Basin in 2018.
  • Water Tools: The integrity of USGS monitoring stations is maintained through a commitment to quality assurance and innovation. The GWSIP funds research, development, and technical support to assure high quality, reliable and reproducible measurements of surface water over the full range of hydrologic conditions.


Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Status

A current summary of the 2021 budget process for the GWSIP is below.

  2019 2020 2021
Mission Area / Program / Activity
(dollars in thousands)
[Base Funding]
[Base Funding]
President's Budget
(PB) Request
Budget Changes from
2020 Enacted
Water Resources: Groundwater and Streamflow Information Program
– Fixed Costs [0] [0] [976] +976
– National Groundwater Monitoring Network [3,929] [3,929] [1,534] -2,395
– U.S.-Canada Transboundary Streamgages (Other Rivers) [1,500] [1,500] [0] -1,500
- Baseline Water-Quality Assessments of Transboundary Rivers [0] [1,500] [0] -1,500
– Next Generation Water Observing System [1,500] [8,500] [5,540] -2,960
– Water Science Research and Development [2,467] [2,102] [0] -2,102
- High Plains Aquifer Assessment [80] [80] [0] -80
Cooperative Matching Funds (CMF) [30,299] [30,664] [29,299] -1,365
Tribes - Indian Water Rights Settlements (CMF) [1,000] [1,000] [0] -1,000
- Base CMF [29,999] [29,664] [29,299] -365
Total Groundwater and Streamflow Information Program 82,673 84,173 73,247 -9,426
Total Water Resources (includes all Water Resources programs) 226,308 234,120 180,809 -53,311
USGS TOTAL (includes all USGS programs) 1,160,596 1,270,957 971,185 -299,772

Table showing the President’s Budget Request for the 2021 appropriations process. House and Senate Marks, as well as the Enacted, will be added when each are passed.


President’s Budget Request

The 2021 President’s Budget requested $73.2 million for GWSIP activities. Within this amount, the budget provides $29.3 million in Cooperative Matching Funds (CMF) to partner with local, State, regional, and tribal agencies to monitor and assess water resources.

*Note: the 2021 budget proposes to restructure the WMA budget. Under the new structure, the GWSIP would be consolidated with monitoring activities of the National Water Quality Program into a new budget program: the Water Observing Systems Program. For more information on the WMA budget restructure and 2021 request, please see the WMA Chapter of the 2021 Budget.

As Congress takes action on 2021 appropriations, this page will be updated.


Budget Process Overview

Each year, federal agencies formulate a budget for the following fiscal year based on guidance and input from the Executive Office of the President (which includes the Office of Management and Budget), and, for USGS, the Department of the Interior. Congressional budget justifications (for the USGS, this is known as the “Greenbook”) are submitted to Congress as the President’s Budget Request by law on the first Monday in February prior to the new fiscal year starting October 1. Following release of that Budget Request, agencies work to justify their budget and answer questions from Congress. Over the next 8 months, each chamber of Congress provides their proposed budgets, referred to as the House and Senate “Marks”. Based on these Marks, Congress works to negotiate a final bill that, once passed, goes to the President’s desk for signature. Once signed, the bill becomes law. The agencies are then required to produce an operating plan to justifies the funding appropriated by Congress.

During the budget process, the USGS interacts with the Appropriations committees in each chamber. Specifically, the USGS falls under the jurisdiction of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. For more information on these subcommittees, please visit the following websites:

In addition to the Appropriations committees, the USGS receives questions from various Congressional stakeholders. These stakeholders, referred to as authorizing committees, have specific oversight responsibilities that include authorizing agency activities and providing guidance regarding appropriate levels of funding levels to carry out the authorized activities. The USGS resides in the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. However, the Water Resources Mission Area reports to a separate subcommittee than the rest of the USGS. For more information on these committees, please visit the following websites:

A summary of the authorizations that are relevant to the GWSIP can be found at the Authorizations page of this site.