Drinking Water and Source Water Research

Science Center Objects

Reliable drinking water is vital for the health and safety of all Americans. The USGS works with drinking water facilities and municipal suppliers to monitor and assess the quality of the water used as a source for our nation's drinking water needs.

BACKGROUND

One of the central missions of the USGS is to monitor the natural resources we rely on every day, and one of the most important natural resources monitored is water. As humans, we need water to live, especially clean water. But where does the water we rely on come from? How long can we use it to meet our drinking water needs?

 

DRINKING WATER IN THE UNITED STATES

Nearly 270 million people rely on public water supply every year1. That means over 85 percent of the United States population depends on municipal water suppliers to provide clean water to their homes and businesses.  The source of that water typically is surface water from rivers, lakes, or reservoirs, or groundwater, which is treated before delivery to consumers. The remaining U.S. population relies on private groundwater wells to meet their household needs. The USGS cooperates with drinking water facilities and municipal suppliers to confirm that the source water they use meets its intended purposes, whether those purposes are domestic, commercial, or industrial. The USGS does not regulate or directly monitor water treatment operations, nor does it enforce water-quality standards. But the USGS works with drinking water facilities and municipal suppliers to assess the quality and quantity of the source water they use, whether it comes from a lake, river, reservoir, or groundwater.

 

RELATED USGS RESEARCH

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency