NWS Relationships With Other Agencies
Relationships with other agencies/entities are very important to the National Weather Service in order to achieve the goals and mission of the NWS Hydrology Program. The following is a brief list and description of the key agencies/entities that the NWS works with in the Western United States. There are most likely other agencies that are important to your individual office. As the Hydrology Program Manager, it is important to be familiar with what agencies your office cooperates/interacts with. Also included in this section, is a brief explanation of SOME of the ways the NWS works with these agencies (each HSA will have a unique relationship with all/many of these agencies/entities).
United States Geological Survey (USGS) - Water Resources Division
The USGS is under the Department of the Interior. The Water Resources Division is 1 of the 4 USGS divisions. The Water Resources Division's main purpose is the collection and publication of streamflow data, and to provide various other hydrologic information to better use and manage the Nation's water resources.
How the NWS works with the USGS
w The USGS owns and maintains numerous river gages, which provide the NWS with vital data needed to accomplish our mission. This is the main (and vital) area of cooperation between the two agencies.
w The NWS often installs telemetry devices on to USGS river gaging stations, which allows data to be collected remotely and used by both agencies.
w There is an article co-authored by the USGS and the NWS, titled Stream Gaging and Flood Forecasting, A Partnership of the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Weather Service, which details the working relationship between the agencies. If you need to obtain a copy of this article, Western Region Headquarters HSD and all RFCs have a copy.
NOTE An appendix to WSOM chapter E-06, will contain the working agreement between the NWS and the USGS.
Bureau of Reclamation (USBR or BuRec)
The USBR is a bureau under the Department of the Interior. The USBR operates in the Nation's 17 western states. The mission of the USBR is to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner. They own and operate numerous dams for water resources projects such as agriculture, hydroelectric power, water quality, water supply, flood control, etc.
How the NWS works with the USBR
wBoth agencies exchange various data with each other. For example:
- The USBR provides rainfall and river data, as well as information about daily outflow from reservoirs and canals.
w The USBR utilizes NWS river forecasts and water supply forecasts in the operation of their projects.
United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE or COE)
The COE is an agency under the Department of Defense. This agency provides engineering, management, and technical support to numerous federal, state and local government agencies. The COE plans, designs, builds, and in many cases operates and maintains projects that provide river and harbor navigation, flood control, water supply, hydroelectric power, environmental restoration, wildlife protection, and recreation.
How the NWS works with the COE.
The NWS and the COE exchange river stage and precipitation data.
The COE provides the NWS with current and forecast outflows from the numerous reservoirs which are located in areas under their control.
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)The NRCS is an agency under the Department of Agriculture. The mission of the NRCS is to provide leadership in a partnership effort to help people conserve, improve, and sustain our natural resources and environment.
How the NWS works with the NRCS
w The NWS and the NRCS share water supply forecasting responsibility. Forecasts are coordinated between the two agencies, then published jointly.
w Both agencies share various data to support their respective programs. For example:
- The NRCS operates the SNOTEL network, from which the NWS receives data.
- The NRCS uses various hydrometeorological data from the NWS.
- The National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center (NOHRSC) provide snow course data to the NRCS.
w The NWS and the NRCS have a joint agreement about how the two agencies will work together. The agreement is titled: Subsidiary Working Agreement between the United States Department of Commerce, National Weather Service, Office of Hydrology and the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Weather and Climate Center. Western Region Headquarters HSD will have copies of this agreement.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is an independent agency that reports directly to the President of the United States. FEMA's mission is to reduce loss of life and property and protect our nation's critical infrastructure from all types of hazards through a comprehensive risk-based, emergency management program of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
How the NWS works with FEMA
w FEMA uses NWS forecasts and information for planning purposes (i.e. to position equipment and/or people in locations before a disaster occurs, or for emergency response purposes after a disaster has taken place).
National Park Service
The National Park Service is part of the Department of the Interior. The National Park System comprises 378 areas, which span more than 83 million acres. Flooding can occur within these areas, which is only aggravated by building on a flood plain, or dams in the area. The National Park Service has created flood plain and dam safety policies, which have been implemented according to Executive Orders.
How the NWS works with the NPS
~ Many national parks are part of the NWS Cooperative Observer Network. They often have gages located in the park, and they exchange this data with the NWS.
w National Park officials often use NWS forecasts for park safety and planning purposes.
ALERT Users Group (AUG)
ALERT, which stands for Automatic Local Evaluation in Real Time, is a flash flood warning system that is heavily used in Western Region. In the early 1970's, the CNRFC pioneered the development of real-time data acquisition technology for rain and stream gages, which is now a vital flash flood warning system used throughout the United States.
ALERT stations are owned by local, state, and federal government agencies, as well as private entities, which together form an ALERT network. These agencies and entities have joined together not only to share data, but have also formed the ALERT Users Group (AUG). The AUG has members from all 8 NWS Western Region states. Other ALERT User Groups include the Southwestern Association of ALERT Systems (SAAS), and ALERT/IFLOWS (a group in the Eastern U.S.). ALERT Users in the state of Arizona are part of both the AUG and the SAAS.
Salt River Project (SRP)
The Salt River Project, located in Central Arizona, is one of the state's largest providers of electric utilities and water. The side of SRP that deals with water is a private corporation. They maintain and operate dams, groundwater wells, and canals that deliver water for municipal use, as well as agricultural and urban irrigation use.
How the NWS works with the SRP
w WFO Phoenix is located in one of SRP's office buildings.
w The NWS and SRP exchange hydrometeorological data from areas throughout Central Arizona to support each other's respective programs.
w The NWS and SRP coordinate inflow forecasts with each other.
w The NWS provides special forecasts for various SRP construction projects.
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA)
The BPA is an agency that is part of the Department of Energy. The BPA sells approximately 46% of the power consumed in the Northwest. The BPA owns and operates one of the largest high-voltage electrical transmission systems in the world, in order to deliver power. This electric power is produced at 29 federal dams along the Columbia-Snake River Basin. The dams are owned by other agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation. The main area that BPA services cover, includes the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Western Montana. The service area also covers smaller portions California, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.
How the NWS works with the BPA
w The BPA and the NWS have a cooperative working relationship. For example:
- The BPA uses NWS hydrologic forecasts.
- BPA provides the NWS with regulation information.
California Department of Water Resources (DWR)
The California Department of Water Resources was established to plan and guide the development of California's water resources. Some of their on-going projects include flood control for the Central Valley, dam safety for more than 1200 dams statewide, local assistance projects, water management strategies, water quality improvement, and water supply data collection and studies. The California DWR also provides year-round hydrologic data via the California Data Exchange Center (CDEC).
How the NWS works with the California DWRw The CNRFC, WFO Sacramento, and the DWR function as a joint Federal/State Forecast Center during flood events.
w The CNRFC and WFO Sacramento are located in the same building with the DWR.
w Both agencies exchange hydrometeorological data to support their respective programs/mission.
w Daily hydrologic conditions and operations are coordinated between the DWR and the CNRFC.
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is part of the Department of the Interior. The BIA acts as the principle agent of the United States in carrying out the responsibilities that the U.S. has as a trustee, for property it holds for federally-recognized tribes and individual American Indians.
How the NWS works with the Bureau of Indian Affairs
w Native American lands extend throughout the western U.S. Naturally, rivers and streams extend into these lands. Coordination with the various tribes is important when dealing with issues such as gages/equipment, and flooding or flash flooding in their respective areas. Often, special considerations will be required to obtain data and disseminate forecasts/products for these areas.
w Even though these areas are independent nations, the NWS is still responsible for providing them with meteorological and hydrological forecasts.
International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC)
The U.S. and Mexico share several water bodies (i.e. the Rio Grande, Colorado River, Tijuana River, etc.). The two countries have agreed to various treaties, that include such issues as: distribution, regulation, storage (dams) and conservation of water, and the protection of lands and environments along the rivers from flooding and sanitation/water quality problems. IBWC is tasked with regulating and exercising the rights and obligations that the two Governments assumed by signing the various treaties and agreements. They are also tasked with the settlement of any disputes between the two governments that may arise, with regard to the 1,952 mile border they share.
How the NWS works with the IBWC
w The IBWC is generally interested in the NWS's hydrologic forecasts. They are mainly interested in volume type data, for purposes such as helping farmers with agricultural planning.
wThe IBWC encourages the sharing of data and forecasts across the border. There are several working groups under the IBWC that operate to facilitate such exchanges.
British Columbia Hydro (BC Hydro)
BC Hydro is a power company in Canada. They provide electricity to the people of British Columbia via hydroelectric power generation. Their area of responsibility includes Columbia River, which flows from British Columbia into the northwest United States. Because this river system is so vital to both countries, cooperation and coordination between the two nations is extremely important.
How the NWS works with B.C. Hydro
w As part of an international treaty with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this agency provides various data used by the NWS. Such data includes: precipitation, river data, snow data, and reservoir releases.
w The NWRFC uses data from BC Hydro for hydrologic modeling and forecasting.
State and Local Government and Other Entities
Each HSA will have its own unique group of users and/or cooperating agencies. It is critical the all Hydrologic Program Managers know and work with the state and local agencies/entities who use NWS Hydrology products and share data and/or equipment with the NWS.
For example, the Tennessee River System.