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Water Data for the Nation in 2023

A look into the current and coming soon features available in WDFN

Date Posted April 19, 2023 Last Updated May 7, 2024
Author Shawna Gregory
Leah Lenoch
Monica Langhorst
Candice Hopkins
Reading Time 6 minutes Share

What is Water Data for the Nation?

Water Data for the Nation (WDFN) is the home for USGS’s modernization of public delivery of water data. USGS water data can be accessed by the public in many ways:

  • Webpages to view maps, graphs, and descriptions of water data
  • Subscribe to email and text alerts of real-time water conditions
  • Download all USGS water data through a variety of download options including programmer-friendly APIs

WDFN is experiencing a lot of growth with 6 new pages expected in 2023. We want to tell our users what will be available by the end of the year to help our users discover useful new ways to interact with Water Data for the Nation.

WDFN’s web presence, or “ecosystem” has been separated into 4 categories to help us talk about the purpose of each page. Each category could see new pages in future years, but by the end of 2023, we expect users to have many new ways to find and interact with USGS water data.

A summary of all webpages in WDFN in 2023, split into four levels with an image representing each page type in WDFN.  The top level is WDFN home which includes the Home Page.  The second level is Exploratory Pages which includes the National Water Dashboard and Explore USGS Water Data.  The third level is Network Pages which includes the Custom Location List.  The fourth level is Specialty Pages which includes Water Services descriptions, WaterAlert, Monitoring Location Pages, Monitoring Location Pages – All Graphs, Combined Location Graph, and Refine Download.

WDFN in 2023. A summary of all webpages in WDFN in 2023, split into four levels with an image representing each page type in WDFN. The top level is WDFN home which includes the Home Page. The second level is Exploratory Pages which includes the National Water Dashboard and Explore USGS Water Data. The third level is Network Pages which includes the Custom Location List. The fourth level is Specialty Pages which includes Water Services descriptions, WaterAlert, Monitoring Location Pages, Monitoring Location Pages – All Graphs, Combined Location Graph, and Refine Download.

Let’s walk through the different groups in WDFN and what will be available by the end of 2023.

WDFN Home

WDFN Home serves users looking for water data most relevant to them. WDFN Home will be a key entry point for discovering water data and exploring other pages.

A graphic describing WDFN Home which includes the Home Page which is coming soon to https://waterdata.usgs.gov/.

WDFN Home: Handles Traffic for all user journeys. Includes the Home Page which is coming soon to https://waterdata.usgs.gov/.

In 2023, we have identified the Home Page:

  • Home Page: A new tool coming in 2023 to help users who land on waterdata.usgs.gov to navigate to data that is most interesting to them. While legacy is still up, this page is expected to help point users to WDFN and legacy pages of interest.

Exploratory Pages

USGS provides public access to a wide variety of data and adds value to those data by providing basic data visualizations, services to download data, descriptions of data and metadata, and supporting documentation. Due to the variety and depth of content offered, the WDFN team’s primary goal is to help users discover the USGS water data. Exploratory Pages are pages designed to help users explore our data. We will likely build more of these pages in coming years as we increasingly provide tools to access, visualize, and use water data.

A graphic describing Exploratory Pages which includes the National Water Dashboard at https://dashboard.waterdata.usgs.gov/ and the Explore USGS Water Data which is coming soon at https://waterdata.usgs.gov/search.

Exploratory Pages: Explores water data offerings. Includes the National Water Dashboard at https://dashboard.waterdata.usgs.gov/ and the Explore USGS Water Data which is coming soon to WDFN.

In 2023, we have two map-based exploration tools:

  • National Water Dashboard: Allows users to explore the latest water data, using a map with many available map layers including weather and flood forecasts. National trends are easy to understand at a glance based on colors tracking the latest values against historical averages. This tool is available in English and Spanish.
  • Explore USGS Water Data: A new tool coming in Spring/Early Summer allows users to explore USGS water data nationwide, finding locations of interest to access the water data. Helpful filters allow users to change the locations to just what interests them before giving options to download data from multiple locations at once.

Network Pages

USGS has over 1.9 million monitoring locations which can be grouped in various ways; by geography, by funding networks, by water feature. Network Pages allow users to access links to multiple monitoring location data pages simultaneously. For 2023, the focus was on customization to supplement the legacy offerings and learn more about what works for our users. We look forward to adding more functionality to these pages as they mature.

A graphic describing Network Pages which includes the Custom Location List which is coming soon to https://waterdata.usgs.gov/custom-locations.

Network Pages: Group together data from multiple locations including the Custom Location List which is coming soon to WDFN.

In 2023, we have a single network page:

  • Custom Location List: A new tool coming late 2023 allows users to create a custom list of monitoring locations that can be bookmarked and shared for repeated viewings of key locations. Links to associated data pages such as the monitoring location or WaterAlert pages are available from one convenient location.

Specialty Pages

Our largest category of WDFN pages is the Specialty Pages. Each of these pages meets a unique need for accessing water data that serve distinct users. We include ways to view data, ways to download or get sent our data, as well as descriptions of data services available from USGS Water Mission Area.

A graphic describing Specialty Pages which includes 6 separate pages: WaterAlert at https://accounts.waterdata.usgs.gov/wateralert/, Monitoring Location Page with an example at https://waterdata.usgs.gov/monitoring-location/01010500, and 4 new pages coming soon to WDFN: USGS Water Services (modernized), Monitoring Location Page – All Graphs, Combined Location Graph, and Refine Download

Specialty Pages: Data tools to support various use cases. Includes 6 separate pages: WaterAlert at https://accounts.waterdata.usgs.gov/wateralert/, Monitoring Location Page with an example at https://waterdata.usgs.gov/monitoring-location/01010500, and 4 new pages coming soon to WDFN: USGS Water Services (modernized), Monitoring Location Page – All Graphs, Combined Location Graph, and Refine Download.

In 2023, we have 6 distinct Specialty Pages:

  • WaterAlert: Allows users to subscribe to alerts when water conditions change based on custom thresholds. Get notified with WaterAlert, a near-real time hydrologic alerting system that notifies you of stream, lake, and coastal conditions across the nation. Subscribe to text or email alerts when water conditions change.
  • USGS Water Services (modernized): An update coming in 2023 to update the service documentation and test tools. This site serves USGS water data via automated means using web services and extensible markup language (XML), as well as other popular media types. Services are invoked with the REST protocol. These services designed for high fault tolerance and very high availability.
  • Monitoring Location Page: All the information you need about any place we collect data. This page offers site metadata, such as location and funding information, and access to data summaries. This page also offers an interactive hydrograph that allows users to look at up to two types of data on one graph for a custom date period.
  • All graphs view of Monitoring Location Page: A new tool coming summer 2023 to see all the most recent data available for one monitoring location, displayed on long webpage. This page allows users to look at all the data we’re monitoring with sensors, with each on its own graph so you can review the most recent conditions and status of a location at a glance without clicking.
  • Combined Location Graph: A new tool coming spring/summer 2023 to look at data from multiple monitoring locations all in one image. Users specify the type of data they want to see and can compare it to that same data type at four other locations.
  • Refine Download: A new tool coming late 2023 to download data by designing a custom data package. Specify a list of monitoring locations and date ranges to include in the download. The generated data packages are in common computer and water formats to support your data needs.

What’s next?

Our team is busy working on the new tools and features for WDFN. As new features become available, a blog will be posted on the Water Data for the Nation Blog announcing key features. Informational banners will also announce the new features on WDFN pages with helpful links to where you can find them. Our team prioritizes upcoming work based on a mix of website analytics, user testing, and user feedback using our user-centered design processes. If you want to participate in our testing for WDFN, send an email to wdfn_usabilitytesting@usgs.gov with details on how you use USGS water data right now and how you are interested in participating.

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