Water Availability and Use Science Program

Water Use Research

USGS and Arkansas Natural Resources Commission personnel look over a flow meter

Drew Westerman, USGS, and Edward Swaim, Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, look over a flow meter before it is installed and connected to a real-time station on an irrigation well in  Monroe County, Arkansas. The flow meter data will be used to improve estimates of water-use demands required for irrigation and how those demands respond to weather patterns, soil variations, and irrigation methods across Arkansas. (Credit: William Baldwin, USGS)

The Water Availability and Use Science Program (WAUSP) has $2M in Cooperative Matching Funds (CMF) directed through appropriations to Water Use Research. Refining the spatial and temporal scale of water-use data is critical for improving water availability analyses as well as the tools and models developed to aid stakeholders in decision-making. Initial FY17 guidance for use of these funds outlined collaborative work with State, tribal, regional, and local cooperators to develop better methods of sampling, estimating, aggregating, and presenting water-use data. This included research into new methods that use remote sensing and spatial datasets in water use estimation. Water Use Research CMF can directly support WAUSP Performance Measures and DOI Secretarial Priorities through improved data collection and method development.

In 2021, the funding level for Water Use Research Cooperative Matching Funds is $1M in the President’s Budget Request, although final funding is contingent on FY21 appropriations. These efforts will focus on:

  • data collection activities that support development of national models to estimate daily withdrawal for thermoelectric, public supply, or irrigation use at the HUC12 scale;
  • development of new methods that use remote sensing and spatial datasets in water-use estimation;
  • advancing water-use measurement and assessment techniques at the local scale or in support of national level modeling efforts;
  • developing consumptive use methodologies for any water-use category;
  • collecting site-specific water-use data for any water-use category, which can include withdrawal, place of use, and return locations;
  • database development and refinement for improved data delivery and water-use data visualization; and
  • obtaining and refining water-use estimates through water budget evaluation.