USGS Water Watch

Thanks to Miki in the Intro GIS course, who chose this application because it connects geology to GIS (and may help her find a job!).

An GIS called online United States Geological Survey (USGS)Water Watch displays real time stream flow and compares it with historical stream flow for the day of the year the site is being observed. As a geology student, job options are in the resource companies, research facilities or environmental consulting companies. Jobs also are available in federal agencies, which is why I chose to show a GIS application from the USGS.

The initial spatial layer shows the United States stream flows for that day, and gives the user the option to zoom in to specific states. By clicking on a state, you can view the stream flow for that state at much closer inspection. Then you can move your cursor over a specific site and see attribute data about drainage area, discharge, gage height, percentile and class symbol. Click on specific sites and you can see all available parameters for the site, specify the number of days you want to see, and choose to graph the data or see it in a table.

Water Watch helps the user understand how the stream flow on that day compares with the average from the past 30 years. If there was a huge flood, one could view the map and see how much higher the water is on that day than it usually is. So for the situation in New Orleans, one could view how the water levels compare with water levels from the exact same time of year (same day) in the past. I found the posted information to be informative and self-explanatory.

The site also contains some poignant messages that imply the high cost of maintaining the data collection:

Due to the loss of funding from the Atlantic Salmon Commission, the streamflow data for Pleasant River at Crebo Flats, 01022220, is no longer available. If the streamflow data is important to you, and you would like to become a partner in funding the collection of this important data, contact Gregory Stewart at (207) 622-8201 x 118, or email gstewart @

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