U.S. Water Data
August 20, 2006 6:32 PM   Subscribe

What's your water situation, America? Real-time and historical ground and surface water data.
posted by mr_crash_davis (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, in general, my water is wet.
posted by jonmc at 6:56 PM on August 20, 2006

Heavily-laden with high-fructose corn syrup?
posted by nightchrome at 7:00 PM on August 20, 2006

man that interface could use some work

cool post.
posted by sourbrew at 7:03 PM on August 20, 2006

Exported to Southern California?
posted by keswick at 7:06 PM on August 20, 2006

OK, I work at USGS, and, yes, the NWIS interface is kinda bad. BUT--the data set there is incredible and I use the data daily. What you really want to see are the real-time data. There you can check up on thousands of water level, velocity, discharge, and water quality measurements from across the country, most only an hour or so old.

Best way to navigate is to click real time, then click the state you're interested in. Then, you can try and click on a particular gage but many states have so many clustered on the map it's impossible to find the one you want. So, click on statewide streamflow table (for surface-water) and you can see, for instance, how high the Potomac River is running, and how it compares to data collected over the past 111 years (!). Or, pH, temperature, and a whole lot more along the Shenandoah River. Great stuff. Can you tell I love my job?

The public NWIS system and the internal data compiling/QA/QC program, ADAPS, were fairly groundbreaking and have been in use for decades, and much work is still done via the Unix command line.
posted by heydanno at 7:18 PM on August 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

what's up with Alabama and Kentucky?

interesting site.
posted by owhydididoit at 7:29 PM on August 20, 2006

owhydididoit: They're mostly grey circles because most of the sites are not ranked against historical values the way all the colored circles are... Not sure why that is exactly, since many of the unranked sites have been in operation more than 30 years, which is the minimum for computing the percentile.

My suspicion is that it's because many of the unranked stations in Alabama and Kentucky are operated in cooperation with another agency, which may mean that the actual instrumentation is owned by the cooperator. Perhaps USGS may not/cannot do the percentiles for the POR in that sort of cooperator situation, for bureaucratic or maybe entirely different reasons. But I don't know for sure.
posted by heydanno at 7:47 PM on August 20, 2006

Or maybe it's just because those two states totally SUCK!

(I keed)
posted by heydanno at 7:48 PM on August 20, 2006

thanks, heydanno
posted by owhydididoit at 7:49 PM on August 20, 2006

heydanno, is there anything you know of about groundwater that's analogous to the RAWS system like this? I had high hopes for this post because it's so hard to find anything about the state of subsurface water in my area.
posted by jet_silver at 8:11 PM on August 20, 2006

jet_silver: There are real-time and historical groundwater data from USGS accessible from the link in the FPP. California's (assuming from your RAWS link) groundwater site descriptions are less than helpful, though, and realtime data typically are just depth-to-water measurements in wells, which probably doesn't get to your "state of subsurface water" issue.

To get more specific information about, say, salt water or chemical intrusion into the groundwater supply may require a more intensive study, which USGS also does, depending on the relative importance of the water supply, funding, and a boatload of other issues. For data or investigations more specific to the state/area you're interested in, head to http://ca.water.usgs.gov/ (replace ca with state abbreviation of your choice). Some good links under "Issues".

USGS publishes lots of, um, publications on all manner of water issues (not to mention those concerning the nation's geology, geography, and biology). Spend a while at the Pubs Warehouse and see what I mean.
posted by heydanno at 8:36 PM on August 20, 2006

Or, check out the Ground-Water Climate Response Network, which I never knew existed until just now. Some states are much better than others (try a northeastern one) but California does have two sites, at least. But it's still just groundwater level, not, say, mercurcy content of the water.

OH! and, duh, NAWQA.
posted by heydanno at 8:45 PM on August 20, 2006

wow, thanks for killing my evening heydanno
posted by sourbrew at 9:27 PM on August 20, 2006

I was wondering if there was a repository of exactly this kind of data mr_crash_davis just a little bit ago. Thanks!

I don't have the savvy to do it (nor to cull the entire dataset into a convenient format) but how difficult would it be to do time-lapse movies; how certain parameters (velocity, flow, &c) change over the years?
posted by porpoise at 10:05 PM on August 20, 2006

I love this database. I probably use it once a week at least. It would never have occurred to me to post it to MeFi, but I'm glad you did.
posted by nekton at 8:41 AM on August 21, 2006

There's been construction all around my neighborhood the past several weeks. This past Friday night they were at it until after midnight down the hill installing huge potholes for no apparent reason. Ever since that night when I try turning on the hot water I occasionally get water but I also get a lot of air and the pipes sound like little gremlins are trying to escape from the hot water heater into my bathtub. I hate it when the city fixes something that was working fine.

I live in Texas. The alcohol is safer than the water.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:17 AM on August 21, 2006

As a kayaker and fisherman I have used the realtime data for years and consider it one of the better uses of our tax dollars. Thanks, USGS!
posted by redivider at 10:47 AM on August 21, 2006

Or, pH, temperature, and a whole lot more along the Shenandoah River.

Is that high pH still related to the Avtex superfund site?
posted by eddydamascene at 11:32 AM on August 21, 2006

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