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National Water Census

Dept. of Interior WaterSMART activities

Dept. of Interior WaterSMART activities


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Collaboration is a critical part of the Water Census. It not only helps direct USGS towards research that most useful for end users – such as State, local, and tribal resource managers, but it also ensures that information produced by the USGS can be aggregated with other types of physical, social, economic, and environmental data that affect water availability.

The USGS receives guidance on Water Census research needs through the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI). ACWI members represent 35 organizations from all levels of government (Federal, State, Tribal, and local), public interest groups, academia, private industry, and non-profit and professional organizations. ACWI is chaired by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science and is staffed and supported by the USGS under a charter established pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act by Office of Management and Budget Memorandum 92-01. ACWI currently has several subgroups examining water-quality monitoring, data methods and comparability, spatial water data, hydrology, streamgaging, cooperative water programs, and science issues. The USGS has worked with the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable in ACWI to convene a multi-organization ad hoc committee of stakeholders in water availability to make recommendations on the design, methods of presentation, and priorities of the Water Census.

USGS works closely with State and local agencies, universities, water-resource organizations, to integrate and build on existing data germane to issues of water availability. We also work closely with other Federal agencies to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure our data is presented in a format useful for decision-making. Our Federal partners include Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Relevant data include:

  • population statistics
  • land uses
  • water costs and pricing
  • climate
  • instream-flow requirements for aquatic species and habitats

The Water Census will also benefit from a recent partnership formed when the leadership of the USGS, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration signed a Memorandum of Understanding on May 11, 2012, creating the Integrated Water Resources Science and Services (IWRSS; pronounced 'iris'). This partnership enables USGS to work in closer collaboration with these management agencies to identify opportunities to improve data sharing and enhance the usefulness of water availability data for specific management applications. Partner agencies will focus on improving key intersections among major data portals, allowing for fewer portals. By standardizing data formats, the efficiency of data exchange will improve, allowing seamless transactions among databases and compatibility with industry standards.

Examples of Collaboration in the Water Census

    water graphic   Tackling the Energy-Water Nexus. The USGS is working with the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) to improve the quality and usefulness of the water use data reported by power plants. Read more>>>

    water graphic   The Importance of Being Specific. Working with the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), USGS is developing a national water-use database that will contain site-specific withdrawal, conveyance, use, and discharge information. Read More>>>

    water graphic   The Science of Supply. In the Colorado River Basin, the USGS and Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) are working closely with the states to address information needs identified during the execution of the USBR River Basin Supply and Demand Study on the Colorado. Read more>>>

    water graphic   Decision Support for the Delaware. USGS work on ecological water science will broaden the capabilities of an integrated decision support system used by the Delaware Basin Commission, allowing decision-makers to better understand and model the effects of alternative water management scenarios on habitat availability for key native species in the Delaware River. Read more>>>

    water graphic   Coordinating Crop ET Estimates. In anticipation of the need to facilitate collaborative water governance, the USGS has entered into a partnership with Utah State University to develop specifications and standard guidelines for estimating crop ET in the West with remote sensing. Read more>>>

Contact Information

For more information about the Water Census program, contact:

Eric J. Evenson
Coordinator, National Water Census (Water Mission Area)
Phone: 609-771-3904
Sonya Jones
Science Advisor, USGS Water
Phone: 770-409-7705

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