Report content overview: USGS "Concepts for National Assessment of Water Availability and Use," Circular 1223


9/02 USGS, in response to a directive from Congress, has issued this report which is available online at:  Free copies of the report may be obtained by writing to the USGS, Branch of Information Services, Box 25286, Denver, CO 80225-0286. 


Brief information about the content of the report follows.


Submitted by Tim Smith, Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable Coordinator





In response to the Congressional directive, the USGS describes in "Concepts for

National Assessment of Water Availability and Use," Circular 1223, efforts needed to

develop and report on indicators of the status and trends in storage volumes, flow rates, and uses of water nationwide. This would be analogous to the task of other Federal statistical programs that produce and regularly update indicator variables that describe economic, demographic, and health conditions of the nation. The assessment would also provide regional estimates of recharge, evapotranspiration, interbasin transfers, and other components of the water cycle. These regional estimates would support analyses of water availability that are undertaken by many agencies and would benefit research quantifying variability and changes in the national and global water cycle.


The effort described would require coordination among many organizations, Federal and non-Federal agencies, and universities to ensure that the information produced can be aggregated with other types of water-availability and socioeconomic information. The efforts identified concerning  flows, storages, and uses of water would be used with water-quality information from existing programs to provide a more complete national picture of the quantity and quality aspects of water availability. To maximize the utility of the information, the design and development of these efforts

should be coordinated through the Federal Advisory Committee on Water Information.


The timeframe over which the indicators could become available would vary with the type of indicator. Surface-water indicators could be developed in a preliminary way over about a year's time. A year or more would be required to inventory existing data relevant to ground-water indicators and to determine appropriate ways to synthesize these data prior to development of the indicators. Several years would be required to develop improved approaches for estimating the water-use indicators prior to their implementation. The estimation of water-cycle components could be done in a

stepwise basis over multiple years, depending on the scale of the effort.