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What We Do - South Atlantic Water Science Center

The South Atlantic Water Science Center collects high-quality hydrologic data and conducts unbiased, scientifically sound research on Georgia's, North Carolina's, and South Carolina's water resources. We meet the needs of those who use our information—from the distribution, availability, and quality of water resources to topic-oriented research to address current hydrological issues.

The South Atlantic Water Science Center (South Atlantic WSC) is one of the Water Science Centers in the Water Resources Discipline of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The Water Science Center's mission is to collect, analyze and disseminate the impartial hydrologic data and information needed to wisely manage water resources for the people of the United States and the states of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

What We Do

  • We operate local and statewide networks to collect high-quality data that define natural and human-induced hydrologic conditions.
  • We analyze hydrologic processes through investigations and research to increase understanding of important water-resource issues and to promote informed decision making.
  • We maintain real-time and historical data bases and publish peer-reviewed interpretive and data reports to disseminate unbiased hydrologic information.

To assure that our work is relevant and useful, we form partnerships with Federal, State, and local agencies, and other public organizations.

Funding for the South Atlantic WSC comes from a variety of sources, including direct Federal appropriations, other Federal agencies, and a cooperative program that allows the South Atlantic WSC a to partially match funding with state and local agencies. Information concerning USGS products and services can be obtained from:

The South Atlantic WSC home page provides direct access to current and historical USGS streamflow data, a bibliography of South Atlantic WSC reports, and much more about USGS operations in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Data Collection

Basic hydrologic data collection, processing, analysis, dissemination, and archiving are major parts of the South Atlantic WSC 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. Types of data currently collected include:

  • Streamflow data for over 800 gaging stations
  • Continuous groundwater level data at more than 100 wells
  • Water-quality data for more than 220 sites
  • Stream-sediment transport data
  • Climate data

Database Capabilities

USGS data are stored and maintained in long-term, quality-assured data bases. The data bases contain data for Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina and the rest of the nation and are accessible to the public. The data include:

  • Streamflow, reservoir, and lake data
  • Groundwater data
  • Continuous and discrete water-quality data
  • Water-use data
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) data

Projects

The chief purpose of hydrologic projects is to help cooperating agencies solve water problems. For example, investigative results have been used to manage storm-water runoff, to develop groundwater management plans, and to identify areas of water-quality degradation. These investigations address many water issues:

  • Water-quantity and -quality assessments
  • Toxic substances in natural waters and biota
  • Rural and urban nonpoint pollution
  • Saltwater intrusion
  • Surface-water / groundwater interactions
  • Sediment transport and chemistry
  • Effects of climate change
  • Wetland functions and hydrology
  • Aquifer and streamflow characterizations
  • Frequency and magnitude of droughts and floods

Analytical Techniques

The South Atlantic WSC uses state-of-the-art as well as traditional methods that include quality assurance and quality control:

  • Watershed modeling
  • Flood and low-flow frequency analysis
  • Sediment and chemical load determination
  • Aquifer testing
  • Aquatic testing
  • Aquatic community analysis
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Acoustic doppler velocity measurements
  • Groundwater age dating
  • Surface and borehole geophysics
  • Evapotranspiration analysis
  • Groundwater recharge modeling
  • Solute-transport modeling
  • Geochemical modeling
  • Groundwater flow modeling
  • Water, sediment, and tissue analysis

Water-quality samples are collected and analyzed for a wide range of constituents, including major inorganics, nutrients, trace elements, dissolved gases, pesticides, isotopes, organic solvents, petrochemicals, and biological indicators.