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Policy Statement 447 - Hydrologic Data Collection

 

Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on March 14, 2019
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on April 28, 2019
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 13, 2019

Policy

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) encourages the federal government to continue and expand a long-term hydrologic data collection program for major and minor watersheds for data used to design most infrastructure projects. Funding should be provided on a continuing basis sufficient to allow prediction of storm surges, major flood events, sediment transport and the interaction of water and soil through river systems.

Issue

Hydrologic data measurements of precipitation, streamflow, groundwater, and evapotranspiration are vitally important to water resource planning, regional sediment management for reservoirs and navigable waterways, and flood-risk management, as well as the design and operation of most infrastructure projects. Such data are critical for performing risk assessment and economic analysis properly, and for evaluating the impact of infrastructure projects on public health, welfare, safety and the environment. Reliable historical data are essential for the modeling necessary to make accurate predictions.   Most importantly, because these data must be collected on a regional basis, this is inherently a federal responsibility. Many U.S. agencies, in particular the National Weather Service and the U.S. Geological Survey, provide the foundation of the basic data collection program for water in the United States. Given the recent changes to storm events in space and time it is imperative to maintain continuous data records. Inadequate and uncoordinated hydrologic data collection, resulting from budget shortages and neglect, has long term adverse effects on the efficiency and certainty of planning, design, construction, and operation of water and other projects and results in an unnecessary and significant risk to the public safety.

The lack of adequate data impacts the ability to model, predict and plan for catastrophic events. Events such as floods and droughts, have significant impacts on public health, safety, welfare, and our nation's economy.

Rationale

Hydrological data are essential when combined with meteorological, and water quality data for integrated watershed management, floodplain management, and regional sediment management. The data should also be used for the design of the drainage component of infrastructure projects, in addition to water supply, flood control, navigation, and development projects, to name a few. Collection, analysis and dissemination of continuous hydrologic data are critical for effective modeling, forecasting, and all types of water resource management. 

ASCE Policy Statement 447
First Approved 1996



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