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USGS National Streamflow Information Program

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From Benefits of USGS Streamgaging Program (pdf = 1.7M), Users and Uses of USGS Streamflow Data
(National Hydrologic Warning Council, March 7, 2006);

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) developed the National Streamflow Information Program (NSIP) to plan for future streamgaging activities. However, the NSIP documentation does not present tangible and intangible benefits of the network to the nation. If well-informed decisions are to be made about the USGS streamgaging network, an evaluation of the benefits of the network is required.

That evaluation must:

In this report the range of benefits is identified and described through presentation of information about users and uses. A companion report presents the probably economic benefit of USGS streamgage data use.

Flood Management Benefits of USGS Streamgage Program (pdf = 71M)
(National Hydrologic Warning Council, October 19, 2006)


The National Research Council (NRC) completed a review of the National Streamflow Information Program (NSIP) (Nov. 2004). The NRC report "Assessing the National Streamflow Information Program" can be read here and is also available for purchase from the National Academy Press. For further information on the NRC NSIP review, click on one of the following links:


The Advisory Committee on Water Information in 1998 formed the Streamgaging Task Force. The Task Force was charged with developing a strategy to achieve a robust, sustainable system to ensure the availability of streamflow information for all users. It was to consider a nationwide system to produce, archive, and share surface-water quantity information about rivers, streams, canals, lakes, reservoirs, wetlands and inflows to estuaries and near coastal areas. The Task Force included a number of organizations such as the Western States Water Council and the Association of State Floodplain Managers whose members have a vested interest in the Nation's stream monitoring network. The Task Force also includes representatives from Federal agencies that support or use data from the streamgaging network. This report serves as the final report of the Task Force and includes a brief background on the activities of the Task Force and its recommendations to the Advisory Committee on Water Information.


On September 21, 2005, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report entitled "Environmental Information: Status of Federal Data Programs That Support Ecological Indicators." The report is available on-line at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05376.pdf. At the request of Congress, the report describes the status and future outlook for 20 Federal programs that collect and provide data that support environmental indicators used by the Heinz Foundation in their 2002 report on the State of the Nationís Ecosystems. The Heinz Center is planning a 2007 version of the State of the Ecosystems report, and Congress was interested in the extent to which the Federal government expects to be able to provide the data needed to compute the indicators of ecosystem status.

In the introduction (page 3), GAO reports:

"In summary, our analysis of the information we obtained indicates that agency officials are confident that 14 of the 20 programs will provide all of the types of data that they provided in 2002 at a comparable or higher level of availability and quality...Agency officials do not believe that two programs (the National Water Quality Assessment or NAWQA, and the National Stream Quality Accounting Network or NASQAN) will provide all of the types of data they produced in 2002 at a comparable or higher level of availability and quality, and are uncertain whether four other programs (including the National Streamflow Information Program or NSIP) will do so."

Sections relevant to USGS programs may be found on the following pages:


Planned NSIP Streamgaging Network - Maps and tables of the planned Federally funded streamgages under NSIP.


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