Surface-Water Quality and Ecology

Featured Study: Changes in human influences that affect water quality

Featured Study: Changes in human influences that affect water quality

Some of the major human influences on water quality—the ways we use land, water, and chemicals—have undergone dramatic changes over the last five decades. Patterns of urbanization, chemical use, and agricultural production are profoundly altered.

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Featured publication: The value of high-frequency nitrate data

Featured publication: The value of high-frequency nitrate data

Learn about innovative applications of continuous data on nitrate concentrations measured in streams and rivers, and how continuous nitrate data are improving our understanding of how hydrologic and biogeochemical processes control nitrate transport.

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Science Center Objects

Research by the USGS National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project on water quality of rivers and streams covers a broad range of topics, from nonpoint pollution issues to vulnerability of aquatic ecosystems. Dive in and find out more about current water-quality conditions, how and where water quality is changing, and the latest information on pesticides, nutrients, and other contaminants.

The Nation's rivers and streams are a priceless resource—they provide drinking water for a growing population, irrigation for crops, habitat for aquatic life, and countless recreational opportunities.
 

NAWQA research on surface-water quality is focusing on three areas:

Explore NAWQA science on topics related to water quality in streams and rivers

Relations between land use and surface-water quality 

   Urban

   Agricultural

Contaminants in surface water

   Nutrients

   Pesticides

   Emerging contaminants (pharmaceuticals, personal-care products, and more)

   Sediment-associated contaminants (metals, pesticides, PAHs, and more)

   Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)

   Mercury

Relations to aquatic life

   Stream ecology

   Mercury in stream ecosystems

   Flow alteration

   Harmful algal blooms (HABs)

Drinking water issues

   Drinking and source water

   Chloride and salinity

   Corrosivity

   Water-quality benchmarks

Trends in water quality

   Water-quality trends from lake sediment cores

   Water-quality trends

 

How do we do it?  

Access USGS publications and manuals on sample-collection methods.

 

Looking for information on groundwater quality as well?  

Explore these links:

   Groundwater

   Surface-water/groundwater interaction