TITLE: Water Resources of the United States

ACCESS: http://h2o.usgs.gov/

Provided and maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey, this site provides a streamlined, impressive array of hydrologic data and information aimed primarily at the scientist, scholar, or librarian, but also accessible to the layperson interested in such topics as water quality and conditions. A team of six at the USGS Headquarters manages this site, with assistance from some 40 other webmasters at distributed USGS regional and state locations.

A monthly "Featured Water Resources Pages" section usually leads off the home page, though one might first see late-breaking news, perhaps including real-time data, relating to flooding or other current hydrologic events. A clickable U.S. imagemap for USGS personnel contact information follows. Subsequent subject categories include Data, Publications, National and International Programs for Water Resources, and Information. The Data section provides real-time ("from the stream to your screen") stream flow conditions by state, as well as data from the National Water Use Program, among other nuggets. The Publications section is rich with information, including fact sheets by state or special topic and searchable resource abstracts. K-12 educators can order posters on various topics such as Groundwater or Wetlands for use in the classroom. A variety of national research projects and initiatives are described under Programs. The Information section includes additional contact information, press releases, and of particular usefulness to the average citizen, a link a the Water Information Center, where an "800" number and e-mail address are listed for queries.

Most striking about this site is that, unlike some others which attempt similar informational missions, it is both content-rich and well-designed. The home page is of moderate length and almost deceptively simple in relation to the amount of valuable information it gateways to, and its use of a white background and simple graphics lends clarity. Secondary pages are also of reasonable length, and while some use patterned backgrounds, they are subtle and do not interfere with the readability of text and links. Links are presented in logical subject groupings with some guiding annotations. Links to non-USGA resources are selective and kept to a minimum.

During examinations of this site response did seem somewhat slow, but this may of course have been due to sluggish intervening network links rather than a slow server. This reviewer's only suggestion for improvement of this resource would be to provide brief annotation for all links, rather than only selected links. On the whole, however, this Web site deserves kudos for its navigability and solid content.

Judy Matthews
Physics-Astronomy Librarian
Michigan State University
matthews@pa.msu.edu


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