USGS Washington Water Science Center
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Surface-water data are needed to develop information about streamflow and surface-water stage that can be used by a variety of individuals and agencies for the planning and management of diverse water-resources projects and programs such as flood warning and assessment; reservoir operations; monitoring water quality and setting water-quality standards; designing infrastructure such as bridges, culverts, and dams; evaluating the effects of changing land use; detecting long-term changes in climate; and administering compacts, decrees, and (or) treaties on interstate and international bodies of water.
To effectively assess the Nation's surface-water resources, the USGS operates more than 7,000 streamflow-gaging stations, monitors lakes and reservoirs, makes periodic flow measurements on rivers and streams using standardized methods, and maintains the data from these stations in a national data base. The data are published in annual data reports and are available on the World Wide Web. Much of the data also is available on a near real-time basis to cooperators, customers and the public on the Web, which is critical for the effective management of the Nation's water resources. The streamflow-gaging stations and lake and reservoir monitoring stations operated in Washington are an integral part of the nationwide surface-water data program.