Skip to main content

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Advanced Check Status Users

USGS Water Data for the Nation products have many users. Advanced Check Status users desire "at a glance" information that is more complex than the Check Status user. Read on to find out more about this unique group of Check Status users.

Date Posted May 19, 2024 Last Updated May 19, 2024
Author Rachel Bryan
Reading Time 8 minutes Share

Here at WDFN, we employ user-centered design to build better products and reduce risk. This blog is one of a five-part series on users of WDFN: Are You a USGS Water Data User? | Water Data For The Nation Blog .

As described in the WDFN user blog, we discovered four key user groups which we use to design our delivery of USGS water information. Here is a quick recap of the four user groups:

  • Operationalized Pull : These users pull data from multiple sources, including USGS API services, to use via custom dashboards and tools optimized for their location and needs. Operationalized Pull users, on average, use the most USGS water information, returning repeatedly for refreshed data to pull into their own systems.

  • Explore & Download : These users find nearby sites, exploring what data they collect. Users make ad-hoc or targeted queries to download, then alter the data as they need in their preferred tool (R, Excel, Python). Explore and Download users usually take their time exploring the data visually (maps, hydrographs, etc.) before finally downloading the data they find useful.

  • Check Status : These users perform routine checks of a few parameters for specific sites, primarily using the hydrographs. Check Status users are our largest user type by number of unique users. Each user generally looks at a handful of sites for the latest water conditions.

  • Advanced Check Status: These users perform routine checks of a few data types at more than one monitoring location at a time, primarily using hydrographs of multiple monitoring locations, either as a single graph or a scrollable page. They desire “at-a-glance” information that is more information-dense than the Check Status user needs.

This post will discuss what we know about our Advanced Check Status users right now. As we research, we learn more about your needs, identifying patterns that can be used to update our understanding.

Who are Advanced Check Status Users?

Advanced Check Status users share many traits of the Check Status user , including performing routine checks of a few data types, valuing “at-a-glance” current conditions data and relying on visualizations of the data. However, there are a few key differences that make it important to distinguish this group. They appreciate and desire more detailed “at-a-glance” information, often are interested in more than one monitoring location at a time and have more knowledge of hydrology and the local area.

There are two sub-groups with Advanced Check Status users:

  • Data Producers: These Advanced Check Status users access data for operational monitoring. They are responsible for data quality and use the public websites to check the latest values. They include Water Science Center scientists and cooperators.

  • Data Consumers: These Advanced Check Status users access data for decision making, such as do I need to perform an action or how long will it take an event to travel downstream. They include Water Science Center scientists, cooperators, USGS programs, other government agencies, and professionals who deal with water (e.g., water managers, dam operators, canoeing outfitters).

Each user is unique in their data use and workflow. These user stories help us keep you–our user–in mind as we design our services.

Juan, the USGS Cooperator

Juan’s agency is a cooperator of the USGS, and they maintain, fund, and collect data at 20 stream gages along the river. Every day at the beginning of work Juan (he/his) opens his bookmark to a page that shows graphs of his 20 stations to see if anything doesn’t look right. He scrolls down the page, quickly taking note of each graph. Are the data transmitting? Does everything look as it should? He says, “It is nice to have everything on a screen without having to click between parameters.” He likes to have a quick glimpse of what’s going on for self-awareness and to plan out his day, including whether someone needs to go out in the field to check a station or he needs to investigate why the river is behaving a certain way.

Charlese, the Emergency Manager

Charlese (she/her) is the emergency manager for her rural county. She relies on USGS stream gages to help her predict high water, provide an early warning system, and plan for evacuation. There are three USGS gages within her county. There are two on the main stem of the river and another on a small tributary that feeds into the main steam. She looks at all three monitoring locations on the Combined Location Hydrograph . She says, “The Combined Location Hydrograph is great for us during an event. We want the information in the easiest and fastest way possible.” This graph is easy to look at in an emergency and helps her extrapolate crest and timing of floods to prepare for evacuations. She also points her residents to this graph, which is linked from her county website.

Jamie, the Fly-Fishing Outfitter

Jamie (they/them) is a fly-fishing outfitter in Montana. They take customers on custom guided fishing trips along the Missouri River, as well as other rivers such as Yellowstone, Bighorn, Madison, and Clark Fork River. Jamie uses the NWISWeb Real-Time table for Montana to quickly scan river conditions to look for locations that are optimal conditions for fly fishing. In addition, they say, “There are two gages that are 50 river miles apart, and we often go fishing somewhere between the two, so I want to know how the water is moving downstream. I’ll overlay the two graphs and see how water is moving downstream. The Combined Location Graph is very helpful for planning my trips.” They use USGS stream gages to plan excursions with their customers. In addition to planning for excursions across the state, Jamie also gets requests to fish near Yellowstone National Park. The Madison River, just west of Yellowstone is known for its beauty and good fishing. They’ll check the All Graphs page for Madison River near West Yellowstone, MT to plan the trip. They can scan and check that the height, streamflow, and water temperature are all conducive to fly-fishing and prepare the gear accordingly.

Each user story does not represent a real person. The stories reflect real user experiences and are based on our decades-long experience with our users.

How do Advanced Check Status Users interact with USGS Water Information?

Advanced Check Status users are a small portion of WDFN users. We estimate they are around 15% of USGS Water data users. While they are a small group, it is important that we serve their needs.

Advanced Check Status users routinely check for a few data types at more than one monitoring location, typically within a region or area of interest. They are familiar with their locations of interest and know what is ‘normal’ for each location. This allows them to quickly determine the river conditions, and if they need to act based on the information they see on the webpage. While 2-7 days is the typically time span of focus, they might occasionally look back 30-days in particular cases.

Advanced Check Status users’ workflows relies on pages that show customized monitoring locations and data types. They depend on bookmarks to return to that custom page each visit. The bookmarks are often inherited from a USGS Water Science Center or a colleague.

They are likely to still return to the legacy NWISWeb pages to find functionality that is not implemented on the WDFN Next Gen pages, but as the legacy functionality is built on the new pages, their workflows are transitioning to the new pages.

They often check the page daily, each time looking for the latest conditions. Some Advanced Check Status users are interested in making sure everything looks as it should. These are USGS cooperators or USGS hydrologic technicians who want to make sure the data is being collected and delivered to the public. If the hydrographs are ‘normal’, the quick scan may be all they do, but if something seems abnormal, then they may explore additional parts of the webpage, such as the interactive hydrograph on the monitoring location page, or they may send someone out to the field to check the river or call their local Water Science Center to understand what happened.

Other groups of Advanced Check Status users are using multiple locations to learn about a region or part of the river or use an upstream and downstream location to learn about the area in between. They want to know how the river is behaving, predict how the river will behave, or if they can perform an action. They interact with multiple monitoring locations through state or custom lists where they can scroll through the locations of interest, identify locations that need more investigation, and then use tools, such as combined location graph, to examine the river or area and make decisions.

“I like being able to put the three sites on one plot because you see in real time what’s going on and follow the crest. You can see when the crest hit the locations and see how long it will take to get to the next point in the system." - a county-level resiliency officer

Their workflows take them outside the WDFN webpages, and their work might include visualizations on Stream Stats and other USGS water products.

Key USGS Products

Advanced Check Status users gravitate towards tools that help them view current conditions at several locations either along a river or within an area. Key USGS products used by these users include:


Connect with us! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram . We are learning more about Advanced Check Status users as we continue our work improving the user experience with accessing USGS water data. If you want to share your own workflow and feedback on the process, email , or if you’d be interested in participating in our user research process, please email .

Subscribe to the new Water Data for the Nation newsletter to stay up to date with our product offerings, events, and other ways to connect with us.

Quotes in this blog post have been lightly edited for grammar and clarity only.


Related Posts

  • Check Status Users

    December 29, 2021

    Here at WDFN, we employ user-centered design to build better products and reduce risk. This blog is one of a five-part series on users of WDFN: Are You a USGS Water Data User?

  • Explore & Download Users

    December 29, 2021

    Here at WDFN, we employ user-centered design to build better products and reduce risk. This blog is one of a five-part series on users of WDFN: Are You a USGS Water Data User?

  • Operationalized Pull Users

    December 29, 2021

    Here at WDFN, we employ user-centered design to build better products and reduce risk. This blog is one of a five-part series on users of WDFN: Are You a USGS Water Data User?

  • Are You a USGS Water Data User?

    December 28, 2021

    A kayaker rises before dawn. A parent prepares their children for a drive into town over a ferocious river. A utility worker loads her truck to perform repairs on a downed power line.

  • Accessing discrete water quality and sample data on WDFN

    March 19, 2024

    Introduction We are excited to share with you some updates to how USGS discrete (occurring as separate and distinct events) water quality and field sample (a.