USGS - science for a changing world

National Water Census

Dept. of Interior WaterSMART activities

Dept. of Interior WaterSMART activities

Data & Products

The National Water Census Data Platform

A major component of the Water Census is the National Water Census Data Platform , which relies on a series of new data management practices to enable integration and delivery of water budgets information alongside other data of interest to managers, such as water use data or ecological assessment criteria. Eventually, end users of water budget data (i.e. management agencies and decision-makers) will be able to access an integrated online database in a form that will enable them to construct local and regional water budgets. Key components of the National Water Census Data Platform that are currently in development include:

A database of hydrologic indicators, addressing:

    • Precipitation
    • Evapotranspiration
    • Water in storage in snowpack, icefields, and large lakes
    • Groundwater level indices
    • Rates of groundwater recharge
    • Changes in groundwater storage
    • Stream and river runoff characteristics
    • Stream and river baseflow characteristics
    • Total water withdrawals by source
    • Interbasin transfers
    • Consumptive uses
    • Return flows
    • Impaired surface and groundwater supplies used for existing demands

A program for assessing flow needs for wildlife and habitat which will:

    • Classify the streams across the nation for their hydro-ecological type
    • Systematically examine the ecological effects of hydrologic alteration
    • Develop flow alteration – ecological response relationships for each type of river or stream

An application for delivering water availability information at scales that relevant to the user.

Water Census & WaterSMART Products


Clarke, J.S., and Painter, J.A., 2014, Influence of septic systems on stream base flow in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin near Metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia, 2012: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014-5144, 68 p.,

Garcia, A., Masbruch, M.D., and Susong, D.D., 2014, Geospatial database of estimates of groundwater discharge to streams in the Upper Colorado River Basin, U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 851, 6 p.

Miller, M.P., D.D. Susong, C.L. Shope, V.M. Heilweil, and B.J. Stolp (2014) Continuous estimation of baseflow in snowmelt-dominated steams and rivers in the Upper Colorado River Basin: A chemical hydrograph separation approach, Water Resour. Res., 50, doi:10.1002/2013WR014939


Alley, W.M., Evenson, E.J., Barber, N.L., Bruce, B.W., Dennehy, K.F., Freeman, M.C., Freeman, W.O., Fischer, J.M., Hughes, W.B., Kennen, J.G., Kiang, J.E., Maloney, K.O., Musgrove, MaryLynn, Ralston, Barbara, Tessler, Steven, and Verdin J.P., 2013, Progress toward establishing a national assessment of water availability and use: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1384, 34 p.

Archfield, S. A., Kennen, J. G., Carlisle, D. M., & Wolock, D. M. (2013). An Objective and Parsimonious Approach for Classifying Natural Flow Regimes at a Continental Scale. River Research and Applications. [Journal Article]

Callegary, J.B., Kikuchi, C.P., Koch, J.C., Lilly, M.R., Leake, S.L., 2013, Review: Groundwater in Alaska: Hydrogeology Journal, Vol. 21, Issue 1, pp 25-39. Invited submission to special issue on cold-region hydrology. [Journal Abstract]

Diehl, T.H., Harris, M.A., Murphy, J.C., Hutson, S.S., and Ladd, D.E., 2013, Methods for estimating water consumption for thermoelectric power plants in the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2013-5188, 78 p.

Kiang, J.E., Stewart, D.W., Archfield, S.A., Osborne, E.B., and Eng, Ken, 2013, A national streamflow network gap analysis: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2013-5013, 79 p. plus one appendix as a separate file,

Levin, S.B., and Zarriello, P.J., 2013, Estimating irrigation water use in the humid eastern United States: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2013-5066, 32 p.,

Senay, Gabriel B., Stefanie Bohms, Ramesh K. Singh, Prasanna H. Gowda, Naga M. Velpuri, Henok Alemu, James P. Verdin. 2013. Operational Evapotranspiration Mapping Using Remote Sensing and Weather Datasets: A New Parameterization for the SSEB Approach. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). 49(3):577-591 [Journal Abstract]


Bruce, B.W., 2012, WaterSMART-The Colorado River Basin focus-area study: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2012-3114, 6 p.

Clow, D.W., Nanus, L., Verdin, K.L., Schmidt, J., 2012. Evaluation of SNODAS snow depth and snow water equivalent estimates for the Colorado Rocky Mountains, USA. Hydrological Processes 26, 2583-2591.

Gordon, D.W., Peck, M.F., and Painter, J.A., 2012, Hydrologic and water-quality conditions in the lower Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint and parts of the Aucilla-Suwanee-Ochlockonee River basins in Georgia and adjacent parts of Florida and Alabama during drought conditions, July 2011: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2012-5179, 69 p.

Kahle, S.C. and Futornick, Z.O., 2012, Bibliography of groundwater resources of the glacial aquifer systems in Washington, Idaho, and northwestern Montana, 1905-2011: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012-1053, 32 p.


Dickens, J.M., Forbes, B.T., Cobean, D.S., and Tadayon, Saeid, 2011, Documentation of methods and inventory of irrigation data collected for the 2000 and 2005 U.S. Geological Survey Estimated use of water in the United States, comparison of USGS-compiled irrigation data to other sources, and recommendations for future compilations: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011-5166, 60 p.

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