A Department of Energy (DOE) mutli-laboratory Water Cycle Pilot Study (WCPS) investigated components of the local water budget at the Walnut River Watershed in Kansas to study the relative importance of various processes and to determine the feasibility of observational water budget closure. An extensive database of local meteorological time series and land surface characteristics was compiled. Numerical simulations of water budget components were generated and, to the extent possible, validated for three nested domains within the Southern Great Plains; the DOE Atmospheric Radiation Measurement/Cloud Atmospheric Radiation Testbed (ARM/CART), the Walnut River Watershed (WRW), and the Whitewater Watershed (WW), Kansas A 2-month Intensive Observation Period (IOP) was conducted to gather detailed observations relevant to specific details of the water budget, including fine-scale precipitation, streamflow, and soil moisture measurements not made routinely by other programs. Event and seasonal water isotope (delta 18O, delta D) sampling in rainwater, streams, soils, lakes, and wells provided a means of tracing sources and sinks within and external to the WW, WRW, and the ARM/CART domains. The WCPS measured changes in leaf area index for several vegetation types, deep groundwater variations at two wells, and meteorological variables at a number of sites in the WRW. Additional activities of the WCPS include code development toward a regional climate model with water isotope processes, soil moisture transect measurements, and water level measurements in ground water wells.