Surface-Water Quality and Ecology

Featured Study: Identifying Sources of Urban Stream Sediment

Featured Study: Identifying Sources of Urban Stream Sediment

Dirt, sand, and other particulate material on parking lots and streets is washing off into urban streams, reports a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey Regional Stream Quality Assessment. Find out about unique tracers used to ID sediment sources.

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Featured Study: Pesticides in Stream Biofilms

Featured Study: Pesticides in Stream Biofilms

Analysis of stream biofilms reveals the presence of a wider array of pesticides than analysis of bed sediment, reports a new study by the USGS Regional Stream Quality Assessment.

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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 



Contaminants in surface water



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

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

   Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)


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


   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:


   Surface-water/groundwater interaction