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Recent advances in image velocimetry and radar technologies and their applications for surface water measurements hold substantial potential for making flow measurements to supplement traditional current- and hydroacoustics measurements in some special cases and may improve or, perhaps supplant, costly indirect measurements.  However, the methods require additional development and formulation of standardized techniques and practices before they can be deployed.  In 2016, the Surface Velocity Workgroup (SVWG or SurfBoard) was established by the OSW to assist in this important work. In 2017, the USGS Water Mission Area (WMA) reorganized, and the SurfBoard is now within the Hydrologic Networks Branch (HNB) of the Observing Systems Division (OSD). This document describes the purpose, membership, responsibilities, and expected organization of the SVWG.


The purpose of the SVWG is to assist the HNB in its overall mission to identify and develop sound streamflow and velocity measurement and monitoring methods, provide guidance and training to most effectively deploy and use them, and to ensure the quality of the resulting data. The SVWG will (1) maintain an awareness of new developments in this rapidly advancing field; (2) evaluate various instruments, methods, and software that may be used in the application of surface velocity techniques for measuring discharge, velocity, and other hydraulic and hydrologic measurements and (3) recommend steps for calibrating/validating/documenting image velocimetry and radar-derived discharge.


The composition of the SVWG is intended to represent a cross-section of USGS WMA program needs and interests, and may include members from other agencies or the International community who have appropriate expertise. When selecting candidates for the SVWG, HNB will consider the following factors: (1) capability and commitment of the candidate to consistently participate on the SVWG; (2) the needs of WMA data programs, WMA interpretive programs, and other USGS program areas; (3) expertise in one or more surface-velocity application areas, and (4) regional representation to facilitate communication with the field and ensure robust methods that will work in a variety of environments.
The HNB is responsible for identifying and selecting candidates for the SVWG in consultation with Water Science Field Team (WSFT) Surface-water Specialists, current SVWG members, and other HNB staff. The total number of USGS members should not exceed 12. Participation on the SVWG is voluntary.
Additional members may be added to the SVWG, if the HNB believes their participation is beneficial, regardless of their location or affiliation. These members may serve on an ad hoc (intermittent) or ongoing basis as needed.

Length of Service

Membership terms for all USGS SVWG members, except those funded by the HNB or the WSFT, shall be for a period of at least three years.  A member may terminate service early as a result of changes in duties, transfers, or other, unforeseen circumstances.  HNB and WSFT staff shall serve at the discretion of the Chiefs of HNB and WSFT (respectively) without term limit.

Membership Rotation

Approximately 4-6 months prior to the expiration of a member’s term, the HNB will recruit a replacement member to serve on the SVWG.  Some overlap in the service of the outgoing and incoming member is encouraged.  Every attempt will be made to limit the number of WMA (non-HNB) members rotating off the SVWG to one or two each year. The length of service for representatives from cooperating agencies will be at the discretion of their respective agencies, however periodic rotation of assignments is encouraged.


The SVWG assists the HNB in its overall mission by:

  • Maintaining an awareness and currency in new developments in velocimetry techniques.

  • Assisting in the evaluation, development, and application of new instruments, methods and software related to surface velocity measurements.

  • Facilitating the exchange of information between the users of surface velocity techniques and methods in WMA and other programs;

  • Reviewing and advising HNB on work priorities for HNB staff in regard to the development of surface-velocity techniques; 

  • Reviewing and developing proposed HNB policies, reports, and similar documents;

  • Identifying emerging issues requiring action by HNB;

  • Providing advice and direction regarding technical issues, instrument development needs, ancillary tool needs, testing, and training; 

  • Communication: The SVWG will provide the HNB an annual report detailing accomplishments and tasks/funding requirements planned for the next year. Other communications will include draft announcements (WMA Technical Notes and appropriate forms) about new procedures, new instruments, training opportunities, or solicitation of information about issues of concern to the WSCs. Members will also ensure relevant updates are made to appropriate regional personnel which they are representing within the SVWG.

Frequency of Meetings

The SVWG will conduct conference calls on a regular (monthly) basis.  If needed, a face-to-face meeting may be held annually at a time and place agreed upon by all members.  Members are expected to participate in all planned meetings to the best of their ability as consistent participation will facilitate the success of the group.


SVWG members, with approval from HNB, will select a chairperson and a vice-chairperson to serve two-year terms. At least one non-HNB person should be chair/co-chair, if at all possible. The chairpersons may be re-elected as long as they are members of the SVWG but may not serve more than 2 consecutive terms. Ad Hoc members will not serve in leadership positions.
Prior to meetings, the Chairperson or his/her designee will solicit input and feedback from the SVWG regarding topics of interest and will prepare an agenda. The Chairperson or his/her designee will facilitate meetings and lead the SVWG through each of the agenda items. In the event that both chairpersons cannot attend a scheduled meeting or conference call, the chairpersons shall appoint another SVWG member to serve as facilitator for that meeting. These duties (establishing agendas, scheduling meetings, and facilitating meetings) may also be rotated among members.
The vice-chair shall record, or arrange for the recording of, conference call minutes with special emphasis on recording decisions and action items. The minutes, including decisions and action items, should be sent to the SVWG members for approval and may be shared with the Chief, HNB after approval of the minutes.

Authority and Funding

The SVWG is sponsored by, and reports to, the Chief, HNB. Salary for SVWG service (including most travel) is not provided by the HNB (except for existing HNB staff). However, when a specific and significant task has been assigned and agreed to by a SVWG member, funding may be provided. For example, SVWG members may receive funding for specific tasks such as field data verification, preparation of manuals, and the development of training classes and materials as authorized by HNB. As needed and when possible, HNB may fund travel to face-to-face meetings.

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