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Circular 1384

Report to Congress—

Progress Toward Establishing a National Assessment of Water Availability and Use

By William M. Alley, Eric J. Evenson, Nancy L. Barber, Breton W. Bruce, Kevin F. Dennehy, Mary C. Freeman, Ward O. Freeman, Jeffrey M. Fischer, William B. Hughes, Jonathan G. Kennen, Julie E. Kiang, Kelly O. Maloney, MaryLynn Musgrove, Barbara Ralston, Steven Tessler, and James P. Verdin

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (14.7 MB)Executive Summary

The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-11) was passed into law on March 30, 2009. Subtitle F, also known as the SECURE Water Act, calls for the establishment of a “national water availability and use assessment program” within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). A major driver for this recommendation was that national water availability and use have not been comprehensively assessed since 1978.

This report fulfills a requirement to report to Congress on progress in implementing the national water availability and use assessment program, also referred to as the National Water Census. The SECURE Water Act authorized $20 million for each of fiscal years (FY) 2009 through 2023 for assessment of national water availability and use. The first appropriation for this effort was $4 million in FY 2011, followed by an appropriation of $6 million in FY 2012.

The National Water Census synthesizes and reports information at the regional and national scales, with an emphasis on compiling and reporting the information in a way that is useful to states and others responsible for water management and natural-resource issues. The USGS works with Federal and non-Federal agencies, universities, and other organizations to ensure that the information can be aggregated with other types of water-availability and socioeconomic information, such as data on food and energy production. To maximize the utility of the information, the USGS coordinates the design and development of the effort through the Federal Advisory Committee on Water Information.

A National Water Census is a complex undertaking, particularly because there are major gaps in the information needed to conduct such an assessment. To maximize progress, the USGS engaged stakeholders in a discussion of priorities and leveraged existing studies and program activities to enhance efforts toward the development of a National Water Census.

First posted April 3, 2013

For additional information contact:
Eric J. Evenson
Coordinator, National Water Census
U.S. Geological Survey
810 Bear Tavern Road, Suite 206
West Trenton, NJ 08628

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Alley, W.M., Evenson, E.J., Barber, N.L., Bruce, B.W., Dennehy, K.F., Freeman, M.C., Freeman, W.O., Fischer, J.M., Hughes, W.B., Kennen, J.G., Kiang, J.E., Maloney, K.O., Musgrove, MaryLynn, Ralston, Barbara, Tessler, Steven, and Verdin J.P., 2013, Progress toward establishing a national assessment of water availability and use: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1384, 34 p., available at



National Water Census

Geographic Focus Area Studies

Topical Areas

Water Availability and Water Quality

Delivering the Data

Planning for the Future


References Cited

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