Production release of NWIS web services for water data

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 The Office of Water Information and National Water Information System (NWIS) are pleased to announce the availability of three new production web services for instantaneous data, site data and daily values data.

Web services provide a modernized way to retrieve and integrate data. These new web services, along with existing web services previously announced by the Office of Water Quality, offer expanded capabilities for researchers, scientists and information technology specialists to create science products using NWIS data.

There are general advantages to using these new services:

1.        They have been tested, and approved by the NWISWeb User Group. The data are identical to the data served from the NWISWeb website (

2.        They are production quality. They form a new foundation that anyone (including the public) can use for acquiring NWIS data reliably. You can use these new services with confidence, knowing that they will be improved over time.

3.        In most cases, retrieving data using the web services is faster than downloading the data as RDB (tab-separated) files using NWISWeb.

4.        These services allow for new data formats, including Extensible Markup Language (XML), which will be common to all services. These web services will be available in additional formats in the future based on your needs and the needs of the public.

5.        Two of the services (Instantaneous Values and Daily Values web services) support special cooperator, internal USGS or water science center specific data acquisition.

We encourage you to investigate these services and explore their potential to aid in your research and share the information with others who may have an interest.. As you envision new products, consider the possible opportunities these services provide to expand the reach of USGS science.

New Instantaneous Values Web Service for Real-Time data

Users now have the ability to retrieve USGS real-time instantaneous values for multiple sites with a single request. WaterML, a XML schema developed by The Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Sciences Incorporated (CUAHSI) to improve data exchanges of hydrologic datasets, is the default output format. The current tab-separated (RDB) file format produced by NWISWeb is supported by the web service as well.

This web service is production quality and highly available, meaning that it is redundantly hosted, closely monitored and is available 7x24. In most cases, you can expect a faster response using the web service than using NWISWeb.

The service lets you select data using a broad set of filters, such as by state, county, HUC and latitude/longitude box.  You can also query a single site. More information about how to query this web service is available.

Learn more about the web service

Experiment with the web service

New Site Web Service

Users can request basic information about a specific USGS hydrological site or a range of sites within a given latitude and longitude.  These sites can be filtered for active, inactive or real-time only sites.  Filtering is also possible by certain site types such as surface water, groundwater or atmospheric. A number of XML-based output formats are provided, including two that ease the display of sites on Google Maps and Google Earth. This service will be upgraded significantly in FY11 to offer broad filtering capability similar to NWISWeb.

Learn more and test the web service

Daily Values Web Service

This web service has been available for some time, and is now production status. The Daily Values Web service was the initial NWIS webservice to use WaterML.

Learn more and test the web service

Retrieving Cooperator, Internal and Water Science Center Data

The instantaneous values and daily values web services contains an unpublished "access" argument that can be added to the URL. By default, the web service will retrieve public data only. If you request an access level that is higher than you are allowed, you will see only those sites for which you have requisite privileges. The public can never see internal data even if they use the "access" argument.

Here are some examples using the "access" argument for the instantaneous values service. The daily values service access argument works identically.

· (Show the most current measurements for all public sites and parameters in Rhode Island; defaults to access=0 if not specified)

· (Shows public sites and parameters only)

· (Shows public and cooperator sites and parameters)

· (Shows public, cooperator and internal USGS sites and parameters)

· (Shows public, cooperator, internal USGS and water science center specific sites and parameters)

Using these Services

If you regularly use or develop products or systems using these web services, you should also subscribe to NWISWeb's notification email list. While used by the public, it is also used to report any problems with these web services, or to inform you of planned changes to these services. Subscribe to the NWISWeb Notifications list.

Full documentation for these services can be found on the USGS Water Web Services Site.

If you have questions about any of these web services, please contact the NWISWeb Support Team (email to:

If you have suggestions for new features or web services, contact the NWISWeb User Group (email to: