bipartite charge. The first is a performance review of the WRD, on topics ranging from leadership to cost-effectiveness. The second and more important undertaking was to look to the future, so we provide recommendations that will aid the USGS in being dynamically responsive to society’s pressing water resource needs. This Summary includes the major findings and recommendations of the committee. Additional conclusions and recommendations can be found in the individual chapters.



The USGS can justly claim credit for past leadership in many areas of water science and technology. The USGS WRD was the major national employer of hydrologists in the first half of the 20th century. Since 1889, the USGS has operated a streamgaging program that evolved into The National Streamflow Information Program (NSIP). As new needs for streamflow data emerged this program made real-time streamflow data widely available, a novel advancement. The WRD developed methods to measure and predict streamflow and sediment transport and the science of fluvial geomorphic systems, leading to the development of water science and fluvial engineering in the United States. WRD scientists and engineers were leaders in developing the foundations of groundwater hydrology; they developed approaches to understand the chemical and isotopic evolution of natural groundwater; and they pioneered the integration of field data with groundwater modeling. In the 1960s, the WRD established the interdisciplinary National Research Program (NRP) to support pioneering hydrologic research to help analyze and manage water resources and aquatic ecosystems.

External stakeholders praised the WRD’s leadership and commitment to long-term data collection, fundamental to water science studies of other parties and critical to understanding the nation’s water resources. The committee and collaborating agencies both note that the USGS WRD provides leadership in very fundamental areas such as standardizing data collection methods across the nation. A few examples discussed are:

  • Measurement technology, sampling protocols, and other standard method development—The WRD standardized tools to assess frequency and magnitude of streamflow and field and laboratory methods for monitoring. The consistency of methods developed by the WRD

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