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The National Water-Use Program
Formats of water-use data files available for downloading

An important aspect of the USGS Water-Use WWW system is the ability for you to download water-use data files to your computer. Basically, this is not a problem because the water-use data files are composed of straight text ('plain ASCII character'), which all computers can work with. The problem is that plain ASCII files can be very large, so they can occupy a lot of disk space and can take a long time to transfer over the network to your site.

Data-compression programs allow data files to use less disk space and to transfer more quickly to your site. This brings up a problem, since different computer operating systems use different data-compression routines, and thus, data files compressed on one system may not work on a different computer system.

We are offering our data files in a variety of formats, one of which should work for you. First of all, anyone can use the files in the 'ASCII' format (but they will be larger). On UNIX systems, the compressed files end in the '.gz' suffix (use the UNIX 'gunzip' command to decompress them). If you are on a MSDOS computer you can download self-extracting compressed files. These files end in the suffix '.exe'. If, for example, you download a file called 'ga90co.exe', you would type 'ga90co' at the DOS prompt to extract the actual data file. If you are using a Macintosh computer, you can download the ASCII files (see next paragraph).

Also, software exists for most operating systems that allow compressed data files for one system to be uncompressed by another system. So, for example, if you are using a Macintosh computer and have the proper conversion programs you can download either 'MSDOS.exe' or the 'UNIX.gz' files and uncompress them using these conversion programs.

For the compressed MSDOS and UNIX files, you can download a single compressed file that has all of the compressed state files (53 of them) in it. For example, if you download 'us90cost.exe' and then uncompress it, you will end up with 53 individual data files (which will also be compressed), 1 for each state. Use this method if you want to download the data files for all the states, instead of downloading each state individually.

USGS Water Use in the United States

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