Science Programs and Partnerships

Science Center Objects

The USGS partners with local, state, and other federal agencies through cooperative agreements for a variety of reasons. The USGS and partners jointly plan the scientific work conducted under cooperative agreements resulting in science that has broad relevance to address current water issues. Partners choose to work with the USGS because of the agency's broad technical expertise, its long-standing record of performing high-quality measurements and assessments, and its commitment to providing public access to information and data. Additionally, the non-regulatory mission of the USGS means that parties in many types of regulatory and jurisdictional disputes depend upon USGS to provide valid and unbiased data and analyses and accept scientific results. 

See California Water Science Center Partners


The U.S. Geological Survey California Water Science Center collects, analyzes and disseminates impartial hydrologic information and data for the State of California and the Nation. Below are CAWSC program descriptions and points of contact for more information about USGS capabilities and parterships.

Eric Reichard, Center Director,, 619-225-6134
Anke Mueller-Solger, Associate Director for Projects,, 916-278-3198
Michelle Shouse, Associate Director for Science Operations,, 916-278-9560

Statewide and National Water Quality Assessment

Miranda Fram, Program Chief,, 916-278-3088

This CAWSC Program includes both Groundwater Ambient Monitoring Assessment (GAMA) and National Water-
Quality Assessment (NAWQA) projects

  • The GAMA Program is a statewide comprehensive assessment of groundwater quality designed to help understand and identify risks to California’s groundwater resources.
  • The NAWQA Program collects and interprets long-term consistent and comparable information on streams, rivers, groundwater, and aquatic systems, to support decisions related to water-quality management and policy.

Watershed, Ecology, and Integrated Hydrologic Modeling

Scott Wright, Acting Program Chief,, 916-278-3024

The Watershed, Ecology, and Integrated Hydrologic Modeling Program conducts interdisciplinary scientific
studies to provide information and understanding on statewide, regional, and local watershed processes. The
group focuses on forecasting: how changes in hydrological processes associated with climate change may
alter river and groundwater quantity and quality; how these changes affect the movement of sediment and
contaminants through watershed and groundwater systems; and how hydrological extremes, such as floods and
drought, will affect riverine ecology. Disciplines brought to bear in these investigations include surface and
groundwater hydrology, sediment dynamics, water quality science, and ecology.

Biogeochemistry and Contaminants

Joseph Domagalski, Program Chief,, 916-278-3077

The Biogeochemistry and Contaminants Program investigates how soil and aquatic processes are influenced by
the physical dynamics of an ecosystem in ways that affect gas, nutrient, and metals mobilization, transport, and
other environmental effects. This program includes the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment regionalspecific
contamination projects. Additional projects include: investigations of the role of soil and aquatic
processes on greenhouse gas exchange with the atmosphere; mercury cycling in rivers and estuaries; release
and uptake of nutrients from creeks to coastal systems; habitat suitability criteria; and ways in which drinking
source water management may be improved. This program also specializes in applications of in-situ high
frequency monitoring systems that use novel sensors to better understand how hydrodynamics and atmospheric
dynamics affect the hydrologic systems.

Estuarine Hydrodynamics and Sediment

Paul Work, Program Chief,, (916) 278-3178

The Estuarine Hydrodynamics and Sediment Program consists of two major groups:

  • The estuarine hydrodynamics group focuses on collecting hydrodynamic (water level, velocity, discharge) and water quality (temperature, electrical conductivity, turbidity) data in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta. These data are relied upon for daily operation of the State and Federal water projects, for regulatory compliance, and for numerical model calibration. Monitoring data and analyses of these data are used to understand both natural and anthropogenic influences on water movement and transport processes in the Delta.
  • The suspended-sediment transport group studies the supply of sediment to the estuary of the San Francisco Bay and Delta, distribution and movement within the estuary, and ramifications for the ecosystem, marsh restoration, and dredging. Suspended sediment is an important component of the estuary because it transports adsorbed toxic substances, provides habitat for benthic organisms, limits light availability and photosynthesis, affects fish habitat, can contribute to wetland restoration, and deposits in ports and waterways which require dredging.

Groundwater Availability and Use Assessments

Claudia Faunt, Program Chief,, 619-224-6142

The Groundwater Availablity And Use Assessments Program encompasses geochemistry, geophysics, and
field operations to collect, gather and analyze hydrogeologic information. The geochemistry group synthesizes
chemical, isotopic, mineralogic, bacteriological, and other data collected in field and laboratory settings in
support of CAWSC studies to determine the suitability of water for use; quantify natural and anthropogenic
processes that control surface water, unsaturated-zone water, and groundwater chemistry; and assess the
source, movement, and age of water (and constituents transported with water). The geophysics group uses,
and where appropriate develops, surficial and borehole geophysical techniques to evaluate subsurface geology,
hydraulics of wells, groundwater recharge, and other processes in support of CAWSC studies at well-bore,
basin, and regional scales.

California Oil, Gas, and Groundwater

Matthew Landon, Program Chief,, (619) 224-6109

The California Oil, Gas, and Groundwater (COGG) Program will provide an overall assessment of the effects
of oil and gas development on regional groundwater quality in California. In 2013, California Senate Bill 4
was passed requiring the State Water Resources Control Board to establish and implement a comprehensive
regulatory groundwater monitoring and oversight program for well stimulation treatment activities in areas of
oil and gas operations.The USGS will provide technical analysis, using monitoring criteria developed by the
SWB to examine the full range of effects oil and gas development are likely to have on water quality. Regional
monitoring will help California assess oil and gas development on groundwater quality, allowing policy
makers, oil and gas developers, and water resource managers to better plan for - and implement - management


Hydrologic Monitoring

Mark Dickman, Associate Director for Data,, 916-278-9111

The Hydrologic Monitoring Program operates a statewide network of monitoring stations for the collection of hydrologic data, such as streamflow, groundwater levels, sediment, water temperature, water-quality parameters, and precipitation. Many of these monitoring stations provide data in real-time on NWISweb at Through cooperative efforts with more than 125 local, State, and Federal agencies in California, the program provides reliable, impartial, and timely information needed to understand California’s water resources.

Streamflow data in California are provided as part of a nationwide program of over 7,000 USGS streamgages that provide streamflow information to the Nation for a variety of purposes—from flood and landslide forecasting to detecting changes in streamflow caused by human activities or climate change. The Program operates more than 500 streamgages in California; more than half of those streamgages have over 60 years of data record and as many as 25 streamgages have over 100 years of data record. A variety of advanced acoustic technology and other approved methods are used to accurately and reliably measure stream height and flow for locations throughout California that provide critical information to decision makers, water resource managers, scientists, and the public.