Glossaries

It’s hard to understand water issues unless you know the lingo. Here are some helpful water-related glossaries on the web:

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Dictionary of Water Terms offers a long list of definitions as part of its Water Science School, which provides helpful imagery, maps, data and other tools for understanding the water sector.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency’s glossary covers common water-related terms, abbreviations and definitions.

The Groundwater Foundation’s glossary focuses on water beneath the ground.

The North American Lake Management Society has a glossary that goes deep on water-related terms with 5,842 entries.

The Water Education Foundation’s Aquapedia is an online encyclopedia for water that includes detailed information about water-related topics, people, acronyms and more. The site also includes photos, videos, historical timelines and a tool for Californians to determine the source of their water.

Maven’s Notebook also focuses on California with its list of terms and definitions. This site also provides maps and diagrams.

The Colorado State University Extension offers a glossary with a focus on Colorado water issues.

The Colorado River District website includes a hyperlinked glossary and list of acronyms that focuses on Colorado-related water terminology.The district also provides maps, photos and videos.

Some state water agencies within the Colorado River Basin have their own glossaries:

Arizona Department of Water Resources

Nevada Division of Water Resources

New Mexico Office of the State Engineer/Interstate Stream Commission

The Utah Division of Water Rights

Do you know of another source for a water-related glossary? Please contact us so we can add it to the list.

Confluence of the Green River and Colorado River in Utah's Canyonlands National Park. Photo by Mitch Tobin.
Confluence of the Green River and Colorado River in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. Photo by Mitch Tobin.

The Water Desk’s mission is to increase the volume, depth and power of journalism connected to Western water issues. We're an initiative of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder. The Water Desk launched in April 2019 with support from the Walton Family Foundation. We maintain a strict editorial firewall between our funders and our journalism. The Water Desk is seeking additional funding to build and sustain the initiative.