General Information Product 70
The National Streamflow Information Program
Provide the streamflow information and understanding required to meet local, State, regional, and national needs.
- Develop and operate a Federally funded stable network of streamgages to meet national needs
- Improve the timeliness, reliability, and convenience of the streamflow information
- Improve understanding of floods and droughts through expanded measurements and analyses
- Complete regional assessments of streamflow information to quantify resource, estimate water availability and identify trends
- Perform and fund research and development activities to advance equipment technology and measurement and analysis techniques
What is streamflow?
Streamflow is the amount of water moving in a stream or river past a given point through time and is typically reported in cubic feet per second, or million gallons per day. You can see the amount of water currently flowing in a river near where you live or elsewhere in the Nation by going to http://water.usgs.gov/nwis/rt.
The USGS currently operates about 7,500 streamgages nationwide. Streamgages are the monitoring tools used to track the movement of water in streams and rivers.
How is streamflow measured?
Streamflow information is usually obtained by
- measuring stage (water height) continuously
- measuring streamflow periodically
- defining a relation between stage and streamflow
- using the stage-streamflow relation for a continuous streamflow record.
This information is then available to users in real-time 24 hours a day.
How is streamflow information used?
Flood planning and warning
Impact on streamflow from
- Land use
- Water use
- Bridges, roads, culverts
- Water treatment plants
Water-resource appraisal and allocations
- Water supply plans
- Interstate agreements
Operation of locks and dams
Recreation safety and enjoyment
Photo courtesy of Vom Dart Haus German Shepherds
“Nationwide, the benefits........greatly exceed
the cost of collecting the data through NSIP.”
National Hydrologic Warning Council, 2006
When fully implemented, NSIP will provide Nation-wide streamflow information and understanding needed by a wide range of users. See http://water.usgs.gov/nsip/
To learn more about USGS surface water and streamgaging activities, visit:
Download the NSIP Brochure-1 (5,72 MB)
Download the NSIP Brochure-2 (5,45 MB)
For more information please contact: