USGS WaterAlert, Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I manage or cancel my WaterAlert?
• How to Manage or Cancel Your WaterAlert Subscription
The various actions for managing your WaterAlerts, such as SIGNOFF (i.e. cancel/delete/stop), LIST, PAUSE, or CONTINUE are performed by sending an email to
email@example.com a Subject of your subscription ID and the action you want to take.
It is not necessary that you recall your subscription ID. To obtain the complete list of actions, with instructions specific to your WaterAlert ID, simply do the following:
- Open one of your WaterAlert text or email messages. In it, you will find a unique web link to a set of instructions for managing that subscription. If it is not clickable, copy and paste it into your web browser:
Examples Text alert Email alert
- Follow your customized instructions or simply click on the link provided within, for the action you want to take.
You may also obtain custom management instructions on
ALL your WaterAlerts by submitting this request:
- What are the data parameters available for subscription?
The basic real-time data parameters supported by WaterAlert are
the following. Not all parameters for a given data type
are necessarily available at each site:
Gage height (stage)
Water level (depth)
Water Level (elevation)
- Why did I not receive a WaterAlert message when my threshold was exceeded?
- Check your Spam mail folder. Emails are sent from the domain @usgs.gov - please set your email spam filter to accept emails from this domain to ensure proper delivery.
- Why isn't a known real-time site on the map?
- The real-time data at the site are not available for the parameters supported by WaterAlert, or
- The real-time data supported by the WaterAlert are not publicly available at this site, or
- The site is seasonal, resulting in no real-time data at this time.
- Why does the Search feature fail to find a known site?
- Searching is dependant upon your current state/territory and data-type selection. Therefore, searching may fail if, for example, you are searching for a groundwater site but your currently selected data type is surface water.
- Why do you need my email address when I submit for text (SMS) messaging?
- Your email address is required for a one-time confirmation. Shortly after you submit this form, you will receive an email to which you must reply, without altering, in order to activate your SMS subscription. We do not share that address (see our Privacy Statement).
- Can the time that notifications are sent be set to a certain time of day?
There is no way to explicitly set a time of day for notifications.
For a 24-hour WaterAlert, the alerts will start 24 hours from the time that the notification was confirmed. If a selected threshold continues to be exceeded, notification will not happen for another 24 hours pending the next update from a gage. The notifications will tend to be at the same time of the day, but can drift over time.
If the value drops below the set threshold so that no notification is sent for a while (perhaps days or weeks), and then, for example the threshold is exceeded at 2 AM, the 24 hour timer would then be reset from that time.
As a work-around it is possible to reset the timing by pausing a notification for a little over a day. For example, if your notification is arriving at 10PM and you want to receive it at 9 AM (13 hours earlier), pause the alert for 24 + (24 - 13) = 35 hours. To pause for 35 hours, use the letter H at the end of the interval so that it specifies hours rather than the default of days, eg. PAUSE hni-Zy9jj 35h
It is very unclear what the "right thing to do" would be relative to setting a time of day for notifications. If a customer wanted a 3PM notification, but their threshold value was exceeded at 10AM ... would they want a notification? Or if the value briefly exceeded the threshold in the morning but was back to normal by 3PM, would they want a notification at 3PM?
A possible implementation would be to allow users to set intervals of time to which to restrict notifications, say from Noon to 3pm, 3pm-6pm, 6pm-9pm, etc.
- How do I change my delivery address?
- Unfortunately there is currently no way to update the address, the old subscription would need to be deleted and a new one created.
- I've just recieved a "WaterAlert quarterly subscription summary", do I need to do anything to continue my subscription?
- On a quarterly basis, timed with the changing of the seasons, all WaterAlert subscribers receive a summary of their subscriptions. This is informational only. No action is required to continue the subscriptions.
- Why was WaterAlert developed?
- WaterAlert was developed to better inform water professionals, recreationalists, and the general public of the latest hydrologic conditions utilizing USGS real-time data and "active" data dissemination techniques with emails and text messaging. It can be used for floods, droughts, general water monitoring, and recreational purposes.
- When was WaterAlert developed?
- WaterAlert development began in the Fall of 2009 with the creation of a committee to create a list of requirements necessary for a national product. It was based upon the North Carolina NC-HAS product which was a proof-of-concept of the idea. The WaterAlert service was publicly announced on May 17, 2010.