The Brazos River Authority’s water supply system is everchanging—the Brazos River, its tributaries and the reservoirs that lie within the Brazos River basin can fluctuate at any time. For those who live near or partake in recreational activities on the river and its reservoirs, having access to updated information is vital for staying safe during a flood event.
To help keep residents and visitors updated on streamflow, reservoir elevations and rainfall levels, the BRA offers BrazosBasinNOW, a water information site with a map-based, gage-system format. The data used for BrazosBasinNOW is provided by several organizations, including the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), from 59 gages located throughout the Brazos basin. And now, the USGS is providing real-time water data not only for the Brazos River basin but nationwide.
In late October, the USGS announced the completion of the new National Water Dashboard or NWD. Built off the USGS Texas Water Dashboard that was created in 2016, this mobile tool provides crucial information regarding water levels, weather and flood forecasts to major decision-makers and the public.
“Our vision is the NWD will be a one-stop resource for all available USGS water data used by the public to make decisions that can preserve life and property,” said Jim Reilly, Ph.D., director of the USGS in an online statement. “The USGS will continue to build out this tool incorporating future advances in water information so the public will have the latest and best information on hazards and resources.”
Like BrazosBasinNow, the NWD produces real-time data from more than 13,500 USGS stream, lake, reservoir, precipitation, water quality and groundwater stations across the contiguous United States. When you visit the NWD for the first time, you will see a large map of the United States. An excellent place to start is the layers panel, which includes USGS Stations, Weather Conditions, Hydrology and Base Map. Within these user-friendly layers, you can tailor the different sections to locate the data you seek. Or, you can simply zoom in to your area of interest and view a data station’s information.
Similar to the BRA’s Downstream Notification system, the NWD also connects to the USGS WaterAlert Service, a program that sends an email or text when certain thresholds at USGS stations exceed user-definable thresholds. You can learn more about WaterAlert here.
So how can the NWD be beneficial to those who live in or visit the Brazos River basin? The NWD provides supplementary information that may be beneficial for paddling trips or future flooding events. For example, if you click on a gage site on NWD, it will inform users if the current streamflow of that site is above or below normal for that day of the year. The NWD is also great if you plan to explore outside of the Brazos River basin and need to know the streamflow conditions for other rivers.
The NWD doesn’t just provide you with water data. You can also find information about hurricane warnings, no-flow or drought conditions and even real-time fire warnings through the tool’s coordination with the National Weather Service. When you visit the NWD, you can see active weather radars and active weather warnings. You can zoom in to your area and click the Weather Conditions layer to find out if anything specific occurs in your area that may affect you.
Staying informed is the best way to stay safe. With the NWD and BrazosBasinNOW, it’s easier than ever for the public to have access to real-time water data so that everyone can make informed decisions and learn more about the environment around them.
To visit the NWD, click here. To visit the USGS Texas Water Dashboard, click here.