Oklahoma-Texas Water Science Center

Water Quality

Water quality encompasses a wide variety of conditions that can affect the usability of water, whether for supplying drinking water or supporting aquatic life. Water quality includes physical qualities, such as pH or temperature, and chemical qualities, such as pesticides or nutrients in the water.     

The USGS Texas Water Science Center conducts water-quality studies from initial assessments to long-term monitoring.


Water Quality Overview
These overviews summarize the science, capabilities, and research activities for each topic.
  Contaminants Overview 
  Water chemistry Overview 
  Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Overview 
  Nutrients Overview 
  Sediments Overview 



  Find out more about TXWSC water-quality science and sediement science expertise in these printable information sheets.

Filter Total Items: 32
Date published: September 23, 2019
Status: Active

Urban Waters Federal Partnership - Edwards Aquifer Recharge in a Developing Landscape

San Antonio Texas consistently ranks as one of the fastest growing large cities in the United States. Urban development can affect groundwater quality as trees and open space are replaced by buildings and roads, increasing the amount of urban runoff draining directly into the Edwards aquifer. A network of sophisticated surface water and groundwater monitoring sites is being used to help...

Date published: February 25, 2019
Status: Active

Urban Waters Federal Partnership - Suspended Sediment and Nutrient Delivery to the Gulf of Mexico

Suspended sediment and nutrients from greater San Antonio can affect instream ecological health of the San Antonio River and ultimately impact Gulf of Mexico bays and estuaries. Real-time monitoring in urban and rural parts of the river basin may provide a glimpse into the importance of urban sediment and nutrient sources. Real-time sensors provide a tool to better understand and manage water...

Date published: August 20, 2018
Status: Completed

Biological Resources of Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas

Innovations in three-dimensional seismic surveying technology spawned an unprecedented wave of oil and gas prospecting throughout Big Thicket National Preserve. The preserve resource managers were concerned about the potential impacts to aquatic resources from these operations. The USGS Texas Water Science Center (TXWSC) provided a baseline assessment of the biological resources in the...

Date published: August 14, 2018
Status: Active

National Water-Quality Assessment Project in Texas - Groundwater Activities

The USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project was established by Congress in 1992 to answer the following question:

What is the status of the Nation’s water quality and is it getting better or worse?

Since 1992, NAWQA has been a primary source of nationally consistent data and information on the quality of the Nation’s streams and groundwater. Data and...

Date published: July 23, 2018
Status: Completed

Salado Creek Bacteria Source Tracking


Date published: July 16, 2018
Status: Completed

Pecos River Basin Salinity Assessment

The USGS Texas Water Science Center assesssed salinity of the Pecos River Basin from Santa Rosa Lake, New Mexico to the confluence of Pecos River and Rio Grande, Texas. This assessment included an extensive literature review, compilation of previously published salinity related data, data gap analysis, additional data collection to fill data gaps, and identification of potential areas of...

Contacts: Natalie Houston
Date published: June 6, 2018
Status: Active

Water-Quality Monitoring of the Lake Houston Watershed

Real-time water-quality, streamflow and water height information for Lake Houston and the surrounding San Jacinto watershed are now available from a new web application from the U.S. Geological Survey, done in cooperation with the City of Houston.

Date published: May 30, 2018
Status: Active

Water Quality Monitoring of Arundo Cane Removal Treatment

The USGS Texas Water Science Center is evaluating the water-quality effects of certain herbicides used in Arundo cane eradication along the Rio Grande from Del Rio downstream to the confluence with Sycamore Creek (approximately 10 miles), along which the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) will be conducting cane eradication using herbicides.

Contacts: Cassi L Crow
Date published: May 29, 2018
Status: Active

Water Quality Monitoring at Offshore Artificial Reefs

USGS Texas Water Science Center scientists are collecting physical and chemical water properties at selected Texas artificial reefs to provide the initial foundation to establish the status and long-term trends in the environment and information essential for sound management decisions and long-term planning.

Contacts: Michael Lee
Date published: May 29, 2018
Status: Active

Upper Rio Grande Basin Focus Area Study

USGS is undertaking a 3-year study of water use, availability, and change in the Upper Rio Grande Basin in one of several national “Focus Area Studies” in the Department of Interior’s WaterSMART initiative. The Upper Rio Grande study area runs 670 miles from its headwaters in Colorado through New Mexico and northern Mexico to Ft....

Contacts: Natalie Houston
Date published: May 29, 2018
Status: Active

Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program (TAAP)

Many communities along the U.S.-Mexico border have limited surface water supply and rely on transboundary aquifers for industry, agriculture, and drinking water; however, information on water needs, water quality, and the extent and functioning of these aquifers is incomplete.

The Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program (TAAP), established through a binational agreement between the...