California Water Science Center

Measuring and Monitoring

Basic hydrologic data collection, processing, analysis, dissemination, and archiving are major parts of the California Water Science Center program. Streamflow data, for example, are used for flood and water-supply forecasts, planning and design, river regulation, streamflow statistics, and research investigations. Much of the data are available on a near-real-time basis by satellite telemetry.

Filter Total Items: 139
Date published: September 9, 2020
Status: Completed

Soil moisture datasets at five sites in the central Sierra Nevada and northern Coast Ranges, California

Soil moisture is a critical variable for understanding the impacts of drought on ecological, hydrological, and agricultural systems, as soil moisture content has a direct affect on runoff amounts. Runoff occurs as the result of precipitation (both rainfall and snowfall) that is in excess of the demands of evaporation from land surfaces, transpiration from vegetation, and infiltration into...

Contacts: Michelle Stern
Date published: August 26, 2020
Status: Active

High Resolution Temporal and Spatial Mapping of Mercury and Methylmercury in Surface Waters of the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta

Mercury (Hg) is a contaminant of significant concern in the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary and watershed (Bay-Delta). The formation, fate, and transport of methylmercury (MeHg), a particularly toxic organic form of Hg that readily bioaccumulates in wildlife, has been studied extensively throughout the system. However, there is widespread recognition of the need for more comprehensive...

Date published: August 5, 2020
Status: Active

Evaluating the effects of wastewater-derived nutrients on phytoplankton abundance and community structure in the San Francisco Estuary and Delta

Planned upgrades to the Sacramento Regional wastewater treatment plant (SRWTP) will substantially reduce nutrient discharge and also alter the types and amounts of nutrients being distributed across the San Francisco Delta and Estuary (Delta).

One highly anticipated outcome of lower nutrients is improved productivity in the phytoplankton communities that supply aquatic food webs, which...

Date published: July 15, 2020
Status: Active

Modeling Nitrogen Reduction Benefit to Invasive Aquatic Vegetation vs. Native Phytoplankton

Phytoplankton comprise the bottom of the aquatic food web and the abundance of phytoplankton serves as an indicator of healthy aquatic habitats. In the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (Delta), competing with phytoplankton for required nitrogen, invasive aquatic vegetation (IAV) has increased exponentially in recent years. Once established, IAV can negatively impact local ecosystems and...

Date published: June 9, 2020
Status: Active

Effects of Wildfire and Fire Retardants on Nutrient Transport in California Watersheds

Large wildfires have increased in size and frequency in the western United States over the past several decades. This has led to increased soil erosion and the transport of sediment containing nutrients into streams and reservoirs. Excess nutrients typically lead to the increased production of algae which can then lead to low levels of dissolved oxygen. This degrades the habitat for fish and...

Date published: April 8, 2020
Status: Active

Evaluation of Groundwater Resources in the Adelaida Area of San Luis Obispo County, California

Stakeholders in San Luis Obispo County are concerned that the increased demand for water use has, and will continue to, affect groundwater levels and availability in the Adelaida area. To address stakeholder concerns, the County of San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors has asked the USGS to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of groundwater resources of the Adelaida area. 

Date published: February 18, 2020
Status: Active

Evaluation of groundwater resources of the Anza-Terwilliger area, Anza, California

Groundwater is the sole source for water use to the rural community and two Native American tribes in the Cahuilla Valley and Terwilliger Valley groundwater basins, which are located approximately 35 miles southwest of Palm Springs, California. The characteristics and sustainable yield of the basins are not well understood and are threatened by increasing water use and potential changes in...

Date published: July 24, 2019
Status: Active

Organic Matter Research Laboratory

The USGS California Water Science Center's Organic Matter Research Laboratory provides laboratory services and support to regional and national projects in the analysis of organic matter using the latest methods in absorbance and fluorescence spectroscopy along with standard measurement of total dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen concentration.

Date published: June 13, 2019
Status: Active

Improving Forecasting for California's Snow Melt Water Supply

California's Sierra Nevada snowpack accounts for much of the water supply in many parts of the state. The snowpack retains large amounts of water in the winter that is then released as temperatures rise in the spring and summer. The snowpack also keeps the Sierra soil moist by covering it longer into spring and summer. Soil moisture influences the onset of wildfires, as well as wildfire...

Date published: June 12, 2019
Status: Active

Land Subsidence in California

Extensive groundwater withdrawals from aquifer systems have caused land subsidence in many California basins. Land subsidence can cause infrastructure damage, not only to buildings and roads but also to water conveyence systems. Groundwater-level and land-subsidence monitoring provide the information needed to guide mitigation efforts and management of future effects.

Date published: May 16, 2019
Status: Active

San Diego Hydrogeology

This is the first comprehensive geologic and hydrologic study for the San Diego area. This study will provide the integrated hydrogeologic knowledge necessary in this important and highly visible area of the United States and will serve as a role model for similar coastal settings throughout the world that have modest rainfall and small aquifers. Locally, results will help...

Contacts: Wesley Danskin
Date published: May 2, 2019
Status: Active

Groundwater Ambient Monitoring & Assessment (GAMA)

The Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment Program’s Priority Basin Project (GAMA-PBP) was established by the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) in response to the Ground-Water Quality Monitoring Act of 2001 (Sections 10780-10782.3 of the California Water Code). The USGS is the technical lead for the GAMA-PBP and between 2004-2012 focused on characterizing the...

Contacts: Miranda Fram