Water Resources

How We Use Water

National Water Census Data Portal

National Water Census Data Portal

National estimates of water budget components and more

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Data Visualization of Water Use in the U.S. 2015

Data Visualization of Water Use in the U.S. 2015

Explore water use data by state and county for 2015

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Filter Total Items: 96
Date published: March 3, 2019
Status: Active

Groundwater Use

Groundwater refers to all subsurface water, specifically that part of groundwater which is in the saturated zone. Groundwater sources are called aquifers: geologic formations that contain sufficient saturated permeable material to yield significant quantities of water to wells and springs. For the purposes of the USGS water-use reports, groundwater with less than 1,000 milligrams per liter (mg...

Date published: March 3, 2019
Status: Active

Transportation-Related Water Projects

The USGS has a long history of cooperative investigations with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and state highway agencies to provide data and information to address various issues related to water resources and the Nation’s transportation infrastructure. These issues cover a wide spectrum and include items such as regional flow statistics, flood documentation, regional stream...

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 2, 2019
Status: Active

Emerging Contaminants

Emerging contaminants, or contaminants of emerging concern, can refer to many different kinds of chemicals, including medicines, personal care or household cleaning products, lawn care and agricultural products, among others. These chemicals make it into our Nation's lakes and rivers and have a detrimental affect on fish and other aquatic species. That have also been shown to...

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 2, 2019
Status: Active

Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is the process of injecting water, sand, and/or chemicals into a well to break up underground bedrock to free up oil or gas reserves. The USGS monitors the environmental impact of this practice across the country, from potential earthquakes to degraded groundwater quality.

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 2, 2019
Status: Active

Land Subsidence

More than 80 percent of known land subsidence in the U.S. is a consequence of groundwater use, and is an often overlooked environmental consequence of our land and water-use practices. Increasing land development threatens to exacerbate existing land-subsidence problems and initiate new ones. Subsidence detection and mapping done by the USGS is needed to understand and manage our current and...

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 2, 2019
Status: Active

National Water Census: Water Use

Through the National Water Census, USGS will provide more comprehensive reporting of national information on withdrawal, conveyance, consumptive use, and return flow by water-use category. Water-use data enables water managers to plan more strategically and enables the analysis of trends of over time. It is also vital to water-availability studies such as watershed and groundwater models.

Date published: March 2, 2019
Status: Active

National Water Census: Environmental Flows

Environmental water studies refer to understanding the quantity, timing, and quality of water flows, as well as the water levels and storage required to sustain freshwater and estuarine ecosystems and the human livelihoods that depend on these ecosystems. The concept of ‘environmental flows’ in stream ecology are the basis of these studies, but they go beyond the understanding of surface flows...

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 2, 2019
Status: Active

National Water Census: Evapotranspiration

No water budget would be complete without accounting for evaporation and related processes, such as transpiration and sublimation. Evapotranspiration, or "ET," refers to the combined flux of plant transpiration and evaporation from the adjacent soil. It is especially important for understanding water used by irrigated crops, and is related to crop productivity. Consumptive water use for...

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 2, 2019
Status: Active

Agriculture and the Quality of the Nation's Waters

Intensive studies by the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project in agricultural areas provide insight into how agricultural activities have altered the natural flow of water and the way that agricultural chemicals enter streams and aquifers, and in particular how nutrients affect algal and invertebrate communities in agricultural streams.

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 2, 2019
Status: Active

Agricultural Contaminants

About 40 percent of the land in the United States is used for agriculture, and agriculture supplies a major part of the our food, feed, and fiber needs. Agricultural chemicals move into and through every component of the hydrologic system, including air, soil, soil water, streams, wetlands, and groundwater.

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 2, 2019
Status: Active

Arsenic and Drinking Water

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element, but long-term exposure can cause cancer in people. There has been a substantial amount of research done to address arsenic in groundwater and drinking-water supplies around the country. The USGS studies local and national sources of arsenic to help health officials better manage our water resources.

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 2, 2019
Status: Active

Large Oil Spills

Oil spills, such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, are impactful environmental disasters that have long lasting effects to the landscape, native species, and inhabitants who depend on the area. The USGS explores the adverse effect that large-scale oil spills have on the environment and helps responders prepare for environmental recovery and rehabilitation.

Attribution: Water Resources