The Department of the Interior’s US Geological Survey (USGS) is in charge of maintaining a “comprehensive national water use inventory.” In March 2023, the Data Liberation Project co-filed a FOIA request to USGS, seeking its most detailed data records from that inventory.

In conversations with the FOIA team at USGS, the Data Liberation Project agreed to narrow the request’s focus to records that existed as structured data — forgoing records that the agency only had in PDF, Word, or other non-structured formats.

On March 6, 2024, USGS provided a set of responsive records:

The conveyance spreadsheets contain 823,552 rows in total, each representing a measured or estimated volume of water conveyed between two “sites” in a given year.

Unfortunately, USGS has redacted the majority of site identifiers (as well as many other details) under FOIA exemption 7. The Data Liberation Project’s research also has also identified issues with incompleteness and duplication in the records.

Even so, we believe that the records are of substantial public value, and appear to be the first time national, site-level conveyance data has been publicly available.

To get started with the records, please consult the Data Liberation Project’s introductory documentation.

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