Surface-Water Procedures and Policies Training Course

USGS Training Course SW1660
Course Outline About This Course
  • Course Overview
    • CourseObjectives
  • History of USGS Surface-Water Program
    • Streamgaging history
    • USGS Pioneers
    • Streamgaging and homesteading
    • Funding History
    • Gage To Page Tradition
  • Mentoring Program Overview
    • What is a mentor
    • Forms of mentoring
    • Benefits to mentorees
    • Benefits to USGS
    • Selection criteria
    • How to apply
  • Stage Record
    • Stage vs Gage Height
    • Datum
    • Types of gages
    • Gage Houses
    • Reference vs Auxiliary Gages
  • Station location and construction
    • Site selection
    • Gage construction
  • Visits to Gaging Stations
    • Purpose of a site visit
    • Preparing for a visit
    • Performing a visit
    • Processing data after a visit
  • Hydroacoustic Principles
    • What are hydroacoustic Instruments
    • Hydroacoustic Concepts
      • Doppler Shift
    • Index-Velocity Instruments
    • Profilers
    • Point-Velocity Instruments
  • Mid-Section Discharge Measurements
    • Mid-section Velocity Area Method
    • Measurement site selection
    • Measuring width, depth, velocity
    • Measurement notes
      • Evaluating measurements
    • Meter Maintenance
  • Moving Boat Acoustic Doppler Measurements
    • What is an ADCP?
    • How common are ADCP measurements?
    • Deployment methods
    • Data archival and storage
    • Preparing for the field
    • Field procedures
      • Data collection
    • Important resources
  • Miscellaneous Measurements
    • Why needed
    • Use of floats
    • Use of radar guns
    • Portable weirs
    • Portable flumes
    • Volumetric measurements
  • Indirect Measurements
    • Why needed
    • Commonly used methods
      • Energy loss in open channels
  • Stage-Discharge Relations
    • How defined
    • Tables and graphs
    • Controls on relations
    • Gage height of zero flow
    • Rating shapes
    • Rating development
    • Rating "shifts"
  • Surface-Water Records
    • Records working steps
    • Examining stage record
      • Correcting the record
    • Evaluating the rating
    • Applying rating shifts to gage-height record
    • Primary computations
    • Estimating missing gage-height record
    • Station analysis
    • Continuous Records
  • Safety
    • An important part of streamgaging
    • Safety is partly your responsibility
    • Use of Personal Flotation Devices
    • Fall protection
    • Confined space
    • Animals and insects
    • Specials concerns at remote sites
    • Use of watercraft

This course is designed to introduce and review basic procedures that underlie much of what is done in the field and office to produce daily and instantaneous values of streamflow discharge. Our ultimate objective for this course is to introduce you to what we do, why we do it that way and the type of settings were the work is best done. This course, alone, will not provide sufficient training to allow you to fully complete most activities associated with producing streamflow data. It is hoped, however, that the course will provide a stepping stone that will allow you to take full advantage of more detailed classroom, field and on-the-job training needed to complete specific surface-water activities.Material in the course can, of course, be used by anyone wishing to review surface-water procedures and policies.

Getting Started and Course Credit

The outline to the left summarizes course material. All course modules are narrated and the text of those narrations are available under the "Notes" views of all slides. Except for the module on "Safety", narrations don't just read the material on the slides--they often contain additional information that is not contained on slide text. We, therefore, suggest you listen to the narrations or read the slide notes as well as read text on all slides.

While you may use material linked to this outline to review course material, USGS and other DOI Employees can obtain official credit for the course. To do so, they must register for it and take the course using the following information:

DOI employees should register for course (SW1660) in DOILearn (

After taking each course module you will be given the opportunity to take an assessment of how well you understood material in that module. Assessments are available for all course modules except the “Navigational Tutorial”.

After they obtain a passing grade on all modules, DOI employees who have registred for the course must go back into DOI Learn and answer a one-question assessment in order to have the course appear on their formal DOI Learn Transcript.


Instructors Module Navigation
See a list of Instructors and narrators Click here to see a demonstration on how to navigate through course modules.
Selected References

U.S. Geological Survey
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Page last updated: April 12, 2013