National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration National Water Center
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The National Water Center (NWC) is a first-in-the world facility that will enable NOAA, in partnership with other federal agencies, to deliver a new generation of water information and services to the nation. These new services will strengthen the nation’s water forecast capabilities for floods and droughts, improve preparedness for water-related disasters, and inform high-value water decisions at the local, state, and national levels. By complementing existing regional River Forecast Centers with a national center, the National Weather Service (NWS) water mission area mirrors the highly successful structure of the meteorological side of the NWS.

The National Water Center Building

Responding to the nation’s growing need for intelligence to inform water management, NOAA built the nation’s first-ever National Water Center (NWC), located on the campus of the University of Alabama. The NWC, a 65,000-square- foot “green” building, will become the U.S. center for water forecast operations. The Center will also support research and collaboration across federal water science and management agencies.

The Design

The National Water Center is a sustainable building with LEED gold certification through the U.S. Green Building Council. Environmentally sustainable features were used in the building design, including a drip irrigation system and water conservation features. The builder also used products with high recycled content that were either regionally or locally sourced, and wood that was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The integrated project team behind the National Water Center was awarded a 2015 Department of Commerce Energy and Environmental Stewardship Award for design and construction of the building such that it exceeded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards for energy and water efficiency and waste diversion.

Building Details

The building is designed with unique features to support a new, highly collaborative and comprehensive water resources services to address the needs of stakeholders and help build more resilient communities. With capacity for a staff of 200, the interagency personnel of the National Water Center include employees from NOAA, USGS, FEMA, Visiting Scientists and contractors.

Building Resources

  • Water resources forecasting operations center
  • Applied water resources research and development center
  • Proving ground for transitioning research into operations
  • Geo-intelligence facility
  • Airborne snow and soil moisture observation analysis facility
Recent Activities at the National Water Center Include:
  • Ribbon Cutting (May 2015)
    • Senator Richard Shelby (AL)
    • Secretary of Commerce
    • Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
  • National Flood Interoperability Experiment (NFIE)
    • Summer Institute at NWC (2015,2016)
  • Academic Sabbatical Program (Fall 2015)
  • COMET Cooperative Grants Program (Fall 2015)
  • Development and Operations Hydrologists National Meeting (May, 2016)
  • National Weather Service (NWS) Partners Meeting (July, 2016)
  • NOAA Science Advisory Board Meeting (August, 2016)
  • Operational Production of National Water Model (August 2016)
  • NWS Hydrology Program Managers Meeting (August 2016)
The functions of the National Water Center can be further strengthened by close interagency involvement, from liaisons to support interagency situational awareness and to ensure critical information is well communicated across the country, to joint planning and co-developing new science and transitioning research to NWS operations.