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August 7, 2013

This release includes a lot of exciting new features, particularly for those who access USGS Water Data with mobile devices. We have a new beta mobile web site and we have taken big steps to make the main site more mobile-friendly.

Introducing *Beta* Mobile USGS Water Data for the Nation (

Mobile traffic now accounts for a quarter of visits on the USGS Water Data for the Nation site. Tablet devices account for about nine percent of visits. To better accommodate mobile and tablet devices, the USGS has created a mobile-friendly water data site designed for smartphones. If your focus is current condition information only, you may find that you will prefer the simplicity of the mobile site to the main site.

Given the large variety of mobile devices and that this is the USGS water community's first effort to create a mobile-friendly site, the site is being released as a beta. This means that you could experience minor to severe usability issues. Older devices are also much more likely to experience serious issues. Use of private browsing may cause issues with sites not appearing. We have created a mobile known problems page that we will keep up to date that discusses common reported problems and any workarounds.

Some notes about this new mobile site:

  • Minimally, you need a smart mobile device with a modern web browser that is "app"-friendly.
  • The site focuses on showing you current conditions near your mobile device, although you can use the site to find USGS current conditions for water sites across the United States.
  • You can save your favorite sites.
  • You can easily access to the full USGS Water Data for the Nation site, should you need it, from the menu button.
  • While the site is mobile-friendly, the site is not an app, so there is nothing to download or install and it won't appear in your mobile device's store. Just use your mobile web browser and go to
  • The mobile site is not guaranteed to work acceptably or at all on non-mobile devices. This includes tablets, laptop or desktop computers and many e-Book readers. Older versions of Internet Explorer are especially problematic. When using non-mobile devices, the assigned geographic location may be somewhat approximated if your device lacks a GPS.
  • A tutorial is available.

If you have any feedback on how to make the mobile site more friendly, please send us a comment. It is likely that more features will be added in the years ahead.

Water Data for the Nation (

  • Better user experience for portable devices. - We have begun a multi-year project to make this site friendlier to all devices with smaller screens, including mobile devices and tablets. This involves updating frequently accessed pages to use the newest web standard (HTML 5) and retrofitting screens so they flow better at smaller screen widths (responsive design). Details:
    • If we detect that you are using mobile device, we will give you the option to go to our new mobile site.
    • Content resizing
      • When your browser's window width is below 770 pixels or 180 pixels, content that would normally appear on the left side of the screen and could only be seen through scrolling horizontally will instead appear beneath the main content of the page. Font sizes shrink a bit as well, so more content can be seen on smaller screens.
      • When screen widths are less than 770 pixels, the data category select box shows on a second row.
      • Graphs will automatically reduce in size to optimally fit smaller screen widths.
      • The predefined displays navigation bar on the station page will move to multiple rows at smaller screen widths.
      • Site location map will shrink at smaller screen widths.
    • Of minor note:
      • Two output formats disappear at smaller screen widths: scroll list of sites and save file of sites for future upload.
      • The subscribe for system changes page is responsive.
      • Page headers and footers are also responsive. Less commonly used text will disappear as screen width gets smaller.
      • The feedback form has been made responsive.
  • More usable user interface
    • Buttons on top level pages used for principle system navigation have been replaced and made to look more attractive. The buttons use rounded corners, gradients, box shadows, facilitate hover text and are image-less.
    • The news banner has been updated to look more attractive and to be more dynamic.
    • Tool tips no longer use an image (PR 30146).
    • Sorting and filtering of tabular data. Many tables of data can now be sorted on demand and are also dynamically filterable and easier to view. See the tutorial. All lists of sites now use dynamic tables with the exception of predefined displays such as state-wide streamflow tables. Certain groundwater field measurements and water quality samples and results also have the new look. There are many tables of data that still need to be modified, including displays of time series data, and which will be fixed in future releases.
      • Sorting tables. Most tables allow you to sort columns in the table in ascending or descending sequence by clicking on the column's header. Click twice to get a descending sort. Holding down the SHIFT key while clicking on column headers allows selecting multiple columns for multi-column sorts.
      • Filtering tables. Most tables include a filter row. Type a value in a column of the filter row and the table will automatically filter the content to show only data meeting your filter. You can also use expressions, like <25 to see rows containing less than 25 in the column. If you specify a filter for more than one column, the data is filtered based on both conditions.
      • Alternating rows often have different background colors, allowing rows to be more easily distinguished.
      • It is usually easier to distinguish a row you want to focus on from adjacent rows by clicking on it. In many tables the row will be highlighted with a yellow background color.
      • Certain lesser-used columns will disappear on smaller screens, such as agency code. At very small screen widths the period of record columns will disappear.
      • The sorted-by output format for a table of sites has been removed because this functionality is handled with the new dynamic tables.
    • The feedback form can hide state-specific text.
    • Readability of popups when you hover over help fields has been improved.
  • Plot Multiple Sites for a Parameter
    • Graphs now support the ability to compare a single parameter for up to three sites. For example, you can compare streamflow for three sites on the same river at the same time to see the impact of flooding on the river at various points. On a station page, select the "Add up to 2 more sites and replot" option by putting the site numbers into the text box next to the graph and then pressing the GO button. Like the Plot Multiple Parameters for a Site option introduced in April, the graphs are dynamic and created in your web browser. You can change periods of focus to get more detail. The feature works for instantaneous and daily values graphs.
  • Plot Multiple Parameters for a Site
    • Please read the new disclaimer. While it is possible to compare various parameters for a site, in some cases making inferences is error prone. Caution is especially required when selecting parameters that use different vertical datums.
    • The feature now correctly plots values between 00:00 and 04:00 (PR 30060, PR 30061).
    • Fixed symbology issues with graphs in IE 8 (PR 30199).
  • Bugs fixed
    • Retrievals by partial aquifer code (ex: ALVM) now work (PR 28412).
    • You can unselect all graphs on station pages with one click (PR 28939).
    • You can select or unselect all parameters for a site. If all are selected the label will change to "Unselect all xx Available Parameters for this site" (PR 26382)
    • Obsolete links to tutorials in old help system now point to the new help system (PR 29764).
    • A number of minor accessibility issues were fixed. (PR 28725, 28744)
    • We added instructions on how to change your email address for you are subscribed to receive announcements (PR 25202).
    • Discrete measurements now appear in tab-separated files for sites in the Pacific (PR 28999).
    • If a graph for a site cannot be plotted for logical reasons such as the site number does not exist, the site exists in a state outside of the state with focus, or no data was collected for the period requested, the page will indicate that these sites could not be plotted (PR 29961 and PR 29772).
    • Daily summary data links on top-level groundwater and water quality pages no longer point to a daily summary for surface water (PR 28631).
    • Daily values graphs for a year now correctly show a year's worth of values (PR 28445).
    • Streamflow measurements table now correctly wraps minus sign when negative shift adjustments are displayed (PR 28468).
    • When using the "build table" option, the resulting page now shows the correct URL in the bottom left corner of the page (PR 25017).
    • Changed incorrect information that suggested a site number could have only 7 numbers. It must have a minimum of 8 numbers. (PR 29773).
    • Fixed water quality field/lab sample count on USA water quality page (PR 30007).
  • New real-time parameters
    • 62610 Groundwater level above NGVD 1929, feet (PR 29850)
    • 82632 Area, cross-section FROM RADAR (ft2) (PR 30207)
    • 72120 Reservoir storage, total pool, percent of capacity (PR 30235)
    • 72121 Reservoir storage, live pool, percent of capacity (PR 30235)
  • Site Mapper
    • Added control to zoom directly to area near a site (PR 28060)
    • When focused on a site using the feature to show a site on a map, you can change the base layer (PR 28924)

National Water Information System Mapper (

  • Several updates to layout provide more space for the map view:
    • Map navigation tools were moved from a side panel to a toolbar on the map.
    • Help and Page Information buttons were moved to the page header.
    • Blank margins were removed from around the map view.
  • Several changes were made to the map display options:
    • Moved Base Map selection below Map Layers because they are changed less frequently (PR 30340).
    • Added Principal Aquifers as an optional map layer.
  • Site Type is now included in the pop-up information that is displayed when you select a site. (PR 27179).
  • Site Type is now included in the list of sites table, which can be sorted by Site Type or any other column heading. (30370)
  • Longitude/latitude display was added that indicates position of the map cursor (PR 22245).
  • List of sites is now being purged if no sites are found when a map is updated (PR 27909).
  • The error message has been improved when more than 2500 sites have been requested (PR 29780).
  • Map instructions (Help) were updated to include new and updated features.


Help System (

  • You can now download parameter codes and parameter codes by group as tab-delimited (RDB) files, similar to the old help system (PR 28549).
  • You can now find codes by full or partial parameter name, parameter number, Chemical Abstracts Registry Search Number (CASRN) and EPA Substance Registry Services (SRS), similar to the old help system (PR 28549 and PR 28564).
  • If data can be downloaded as a tab-delimited file, it can also be seen on the screen in a fixed-width format, similar to the old help system (PR 28550).
  • There is a FAQ for dynamic graphs, which include plotting multiple parameters for a site and plotting multiple sites for a parameter (PR 29188).
  • Two new water level method codes were added (PR 29979).
  • There is a tutorial for the new mobile site (PR 30159).
  • There is a tutorial on the new table sorter

USGS Water Services (

  • Web services on have been configured to support Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS). Supporting CORS allows data in these services to be acquired directly through asynchronous browser queries when invoked by browsers that support the CORS specification. In the past, a server-side proxy on the same domain serving the data was required. At this time CORS is supported for all domains using the HTTP GET protocol. The HTTP POST protocol is not supported. By enabling support for CORS the USGS is hoping it will spur the development of Web 2.0 applications using USGS water services. The USGS will be carefully monitoring this feature. It may be further opened up or require developers to apply to allow their domain to use the service.
  • Two minor site service bugs were fixed. Now when dataTypeCd=id, all data returned is associated with parameter 00060 (streamflow) only. This is because data originated in the Instantaneous Data Archive, which contains only streamflow data. (PR 28878) Also, parameterCd=all and variable=all now work correctly. Previously they only worked if "all" was in upper case. (PR 29391).
  • Fixed two bugs with groundwater levels service. It failed (HTTP 503 error) in the unusual case for sites having the UTC time zone and where daylight savings time was asserted or when the parameter 00000 was requested. (PR 30035 and 30036).
  • GZip data compression is available for all services, not just the instantaneous values service. For details on how you can speed up data transfer see the service description for the service you are interested in.
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