This report expands the Water Science Strategy that began with the USGS Science Strategy, “Facing Tomorrow’s Challenges—U.S. Geological Survey Science in the Decade 2007–2017” (U.S. Geological Survey, 2007). This report looks at the relevant issues facing society and develops a strategy built around observing, understanding, predicting, and delivering water science for the next 5 to 10 years by building new capabilities, tools, and delivery systems to meet the Nation’s water-resource needs. This report begins by presenting the vision of water science for the USGS and the societal issues that are influenced by, and in turn influence, the water resources of our Nation. The essence of the Water Science Strategy is built on the concept of “water availability,” defined as spatial and temporal distribution of water quantity and quality, as related to human and ecosystem needs, as affected by human and natural influences. The report also describes the core capabilities of the USGS in water science—the strengths, partnerships, and science integrity that the USGS has built over its 134-year history.
Nine priority actions are presented in the report, which combine and elevate the numerous specific strategic actions listed throughout the report. Priority actions were developed as a means of providing the audience of this report with a list for focused attention, even if resources and time limit the ability of managers to address all of the strategic actions in the report.