Virginia and West Virginia Water Science Center

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Virginia and West Virginia office locations
July 12, 2017

The Virginia and West Virginia Water Science Center has science and field offices in Virginia and West Virginia. Follow the directions to our offices.

USGS: Science for a changing world
July 11, 2017

USGS WaterAlert service sends e-mail or text (SMS) messages when certain parameters exceed user-definable thresholds for any USGS real-time stream or raingage, water-quality, or groundwater monitoring site.

USGS WaterNow allows to send a text or email message to containing the USGS Site Number of the gage you want to query (optionally add parameter codes to customize your query). You will receive a response within a few minutes.

West Virginia Real-time Precipitation Network
July 11, 2017

These interactive maps show current and cumulative rainfall total for precipitation sites in Virginia and West Virginia.  Map provides real-time precipitation radar image to overlay from National Weather Service.

Visit Real-Time Precipitation Web site for: Virginia  |  West Virginia


USGS logo
July 10, 2017

For more information, contact the Virginia and West Virginia Water Science Center:

• Information Requests

Image of a new benchmark.
June 24, 2017

The southern Chesapeake Bay region is experiencing land subsidence along with rising sea levels, both of which can contribute to coastal flooding. The rates at which these two processes are occurring are not exactly known. Mapping of land elevation change requires ground-truth survey data at multiple locations that are accurate and precise. With the exception of a few CORS sites that have continuous GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) antennae, existing benchmarks do not have the accuracy and precision required to quantify how elevation is changing over time. A baseline network of high-accuracy benchmarks is needed to assess relative land movement across the Hampton Roads region and to calibrate satellite data that will be used to map future land elevation changes.

Lick Run concrete lined channel with Mill Mountain in the background
June 15, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey, partnering with the City of Roanoke and Virginia Tech University, are working to monitor the water volume and quality in streams throughout the City of Roanoke. There is currently a single long-term monitoring station, Lick Run, within the city. The objective of this study is to create a model to compute suspended sediment concentrations and loads within the Lick Run Watershed from various water quality parameters. The results of this project will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of stormwater control measures taken within the watershed.

The U.S. Geological Survey is also partnering with the City of Roanoke to implement a network of eight precipitation stations that will measure real-time precipitation within the City that is publically available. This network will provide a tool to stormwater managers, utilities, and first responders to gain a better understanding of real time precipitation in an urban environment.  

Time of Concentration Estimates for Small Watersheds, WV
June 13, 2017

Many culverts and other drainage structures in rural West Virginia are located in small streams or valleys draining 100 acres or less. Design of these structures in West Virginia is generally done using discharge estimates made with widely used and well accepted methods. However, these methods require information including flow-segment length and channel geometry that are poorly characterized for very small watersheds in West Virginia. This project will allow the West Virginia Department of Transportation – Division of Highways (WVDOH) to better characterize local conditions for small, rural, predominantly forested watersheds, and verify and improve peak-flow estimates made for streams draining such watersheds.

Severn River, Annapolis, Maryland, a tributary to Chesapeake Bay, showing high sediment
May 12, 2017

The 64,000-square mile watershed that drains to the Chesapeake Bay is highly populated and has diverse land use, including forested, agricultural, and urbanized areas. Increased precipitation in the eastern United States over the last 100 years has affected stream flow and thus the loading of pollutants delivered to the bay. Such pollutants as suspended sediment and dissolved phosphorus and dissolved nitrogen enter the bay and cause environmental problems. These problems include rapid growth of algae because of the abundance of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), causing huge areas of the bay to be covered in “algal blooms.” Once these algae die, they sink and decompose, using dissolved oxygen in the water to decompose. The use of dissolved oxygen for decomposition depletes the water of this essential gas, which is needed for other aquatic life. The result is “dead zones” in the bay, that is, areas of the water where there is no oxygen, technically termed anoxic. Suspended sediment delivered to the bay during high stream discharge events blocks sunlight to submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), which need sunlight to grow. 

Shenandoah municipal and industrial discharges
May 1, 2017

A key component to assessing the contaminant exposure pathways in streams and rivers of the Chesapeake Bay is using GIS-based landscape analysis to identify sources of endocrine disrupting chemicals. Municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) discharges are potentially major sources of EDCs to streams, and therefore understanding the de facto wastewater reuse (represented as fraction of stream flow consisting of WWTP effluent) at the watershed-scale is essential for predicting risk to downstream water users (human and wildlife). Another important component of landscape analysis that is important to understanding exposure pathways is the river hydrogeology, in particular areas of significant groundwater/surface water interactions, which often play a key role in habitat functions.

Appalachian Plateau Groundwater Availablity Study-newriver2
September 30, 2016

Pennsylvanian- and Mississippian-age aquifers occupy approximately 86,000 square-miles in the Appalachian Plateaus Physiographic Province of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. As one of several USGS Regional Groundwater Studies, the primary goal of this study is to provide a regional understanding of groundwater flow and availability in the Appalachian Plateaus.

Fairfax County Water Resources Monitoring Measurments Illustration
September 30, 2016

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested into the implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs), with the explicit goal of improving water quality. Earlier research has demonstrated that these implemented BMPs are effective at the plot-scale and the field-scale; however, less information is available to document the effectiveness of these BMPs at the watershed scale - precisely the scale at which water-quality compliance and water-quality improvements are typically judged. Answers are needed to support the development of watershed implementation plans, to motivate BMP implementation by stakeholders, and to ensure the vitality of the cost-share programs that have supplemented the cost of implementing these BMPs. Additional information about this program may be found HERE.