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Data Stories

Valuing Data

Without clear value propositions demonstrating how water data improves outcomes, investment in water data will remain minimal. Learn why data are hard to value and how to assess value.

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Search by keywords or categories to find stories where water data led to benefits such as increased efficiencies, time savings, water savings, and reduced litigation.

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Learn how water data has created value to different organizations.

The Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting (SSWSF) program’s data are widely used by agricultural communities, government agencies, private businesses, and recreationists to inform day-to day operations and broad decision-making. We compiled numerous case studies documenting the economic value of the SSWSF program to show the benefit-to-cost ratio for different users. We found that 38% of the time the benefits from a single case study more than covered annual program costs.

The National Weather Service is the primary source of public weather data and forecasts used to inform decision-making and mitigate losses from extreme weather. A willingness-to-pay survey and an impact analysis suggest the potential benefit-to-cost ratio is between $3 (includes forecasts from all federal and private agencies) and $15 (assumes most of the underlying data and forecasts come from the National Weather Service) of value for every $1 spent.

U.S. Geological Survey stream gage data are used by organizations to better manage floods through reservoir operations and design, flood forecasting, and floodplain management. The estimated benefits of stream gage data for flood-related decisions were assessed using direct surveys and the Business Model Maturity Index method. The value of data varied dramatically depending on whether the data were considered responsible for the full benefit of flood management decisions or a relative contribution to the decision.