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About USGS Water Services

What are USGS Water Services?
USGS Water Services is a complementary site to USGS Water Data for the Nation. The site acts as a portal for those that would like to acquire USGS water data via automated means. It is available on the web at
Why was the site created?
The USGS Water Data for the Nation site was created to allow users to explore the USGS's vast water data holdings using a browser. While it does allow data to be downloaded, this feature is ancillary for its intended usage. Over the years the need to acquire USGS water data quickly, more reliably and in industry standard formats became more important. Over time, the USGS decided it made sense to create a system optimized for the acquisition of USGS water data by other computers quickly and on demand. This lead to the formation of the USGS Water Services site.
Does the USGS Water Services site contain all the data available on this site?
It contains a subset of the data and concentrates on data considered most useful to those needing automated data. Over time it may serve all the data available on this site.
What sort of data are available via the USGS Water Services site?
Currently you can use it to acquire instantaneous values since October 1, 2007, daily values, discrete groundwater levels, USGS site data and statistics derived from daily values. There is also a link to a separately developed and managed water quality web service.
Do you have to be a computer geek to use the site?
It definitely helps! The data is not designed for presentation, at least not directly. It is designed so that USGS water data to be easily acquired by other systems, with an emphasis on the data always being up to date and accurate. The data on the USGS water services site has been carefully tested to make sure it is the same as what is presented on this site. However, the public can explore these services by visiting the site. There is a test tool for each service that can aid in constructing syntactically correct URLs to use the service.
What output formats are supported?
The output formats supported depend on the service. In general data are available in Extensible Markup Language (XML) for most services, as well as Javascript Object Notation (JSON). The legacy tab-delimited (RDB) format is supported for all services as well. Often a service will allow data to be exported in Keyhole Markup Language (KML), for easy integration into mapping applications
Where can I learn more?
The USGS Water Services site itself contains plenty of information on each service, a testing tool, various examples as well as a showcase. The showcase shows many third party applications developed using USGS water web services.
More information is also available on this site in our Automated Retrieval FAQ.