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A message from the Director

We strive to provide exceptional, unbiased hydrologic and earth science to support management decisions that protect and preserve our water resources for future generations.

Smiling man with white beard standing in front of autumn tree
Steven Peterson

The Upper Midwest Water Science Center collects high-quality hydrologic data and conducts unbiased, scientifically sound research on water resources in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. We strive to meet the changing needs of those who use our information—from the distribution, availability, and quality of our water resources to topic-oriented research that addresses current hydrological issues.

If you enjoy recreational activities on water, are interested in information about drinking water supplies, manage water resources in the Upper Midwest, or are concerned about the health of our groundwater, lakes and streams, then you’ve come to the right place!

I was born and raised in Wisconsin, and having grown up in the pristine and sparsely populated northern forests, I gained an early appreciation for nature untouched. Though I spent over 20 years in Nebraska, my connection to the Upper Midwest never faltered, and most years featured a couple visits for vacation and to see family. Happily returning to work across Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, I will continue to be driven by the idea that led me into this field; through the study of water, I can be of service to others, and thereby help provide a fundamental human need. I believe I share with the citizens and the employees of the Upper Midwest Water Science Center, the values of stewardship for our nation’s water resources, and a need to protect and preserve these resources.

The Upper Midwest Water Science Center staff is composed of more than 210 scientists, technicians, and support personnel who are committed to providing accurate and timely natural-resource information to the Upper Midwest and the Nation. The collection, analysis, and interpretation of water data is done in cooperation with other Federal, State, and local agencies, universities, and research centers.

We accomplish our mission by conducting studies that focus on a variety of broad-scale issues. Our teams are organized into specific themes, with the following broad objectives:

  • collect, store, compile, and disseminate streamflow (stage and discharge), groundwater levels, lake stages and related data;

  • conduct local, regional, and national groundwater studies to address Integrated Water Availability Assessments and Water Prediction national priorities;

  • develop applied solutions to problems faced by cooperators in the Great Lakes, rivers, and streams of the Upper Midwest;

  • study the occurrence, distribution, and ecological and human-health effects of organic, inorganic, and microbiological contaminants in the environment; 

  • understand changes in the water quality of rivers, lakes, nearshore areas, and reservoirs; and

  • use a holistic ecosystem approach to investigate processes from the watershed level down to the aquatic biota that live in lakes and rivers.

In addition, we have several groups that provide unique capabilities to the USGS and our partners: 

  • the Mercury Research Lab provides assistance and support for USGS regional and national projects in the collection and analysis of low-level mercury samples using ultra trace level clean collection and analytical methods; 

  • the Michigan Bacterial Research Lab incorporates a wide array of traditional and modern molecular approaches to address how microorganisms affect water quality, the environment, and human health;

  • the multi-agency Laboratory for Infectious Disease and the Environment performs research studies on the occurrence, fate, transport, and health effects of human and agricultural zoonotic pathogens in the environment; 

  • the TC Chamberlin Modeling Center develops, tests, and disseminates state-of-the-art computational and analytical techniques and tools so models can be more effectively used in decision-making; and

  • the Web Informatics and Mapping group develops web-based tools that support USGS science and other federal science initiatives.

Should the information you seek not be available through this website, please contact us at one of our three state offices: Minnesota (763-783-3100), Wisconsin (608-828-9901), or Michigan (517-887-8903). We will connect you to a specialist who can best answer your question.


Steven M. Peterson