Mission Areas

Water Resources

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Water is one of seven science mission areas of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Water's mission is to collect and disseminate reliable, impartial, and timely information that is needed to understand the Nation's water resources.

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Filter Total Items: 188
Date published: January 8, 2015
Status: Completed

Nutrient Loading to Lost River and Klamath River Subbasins

The USGS has characterized nutrient concentrations in the Klamath River and Lost River drainages over multiple years, identified spatial and temporal patterns in nutrient and organic carbon concentrations, and quantified surface water nutrient loads entering and exiting the Klamath Project.

Contacts: Liam Schenk
Date published: September 22, 2014

Mobile River Basin Study Design

The Mobile River Basin study is one of several NAWQA studies that began in Federal fiscal year 1997 (October 1996). Study planning and design, and analysis of existing data will be done during the first 2 years, which is consistent with all NAWQA studies. After the 2-year planning period, surface- and ground-water and biological data will be collected intensively for 3 years during a high-...

Date published: September 10, 2014
Status: Completed

Wood River Valley Hydrogeologic Framework

To make scientifically based water-resource decisions, elected officials, water managers, and the general public need additional information about the Wood River Valley aquifer system. A crucial part of this information is an improved understanding of the extent, thickness, and hydraulic properties of the aquifer—a hydrogeologic framework.

Date published: September 9, 2014
Status: Completed

Wood River Valley Aquifer System - Water-Quality Assessment

A component of groundwater availability is whether the water quality is suitable for a particular use. Elected officials, water managers, and the general public have raised concerns about whether water quality has been affected in developed and agricultural areas by wastewater disposal, fertilizer application, and animal waste.

Contacts: Candice Hopkins
Date published: September 9, 2014
Status: Completed

Geochemical Analysis of Groundwater in Eastern Ada County

Groundwater is the primary source of water supply to Ada County’s growing population. Because of a proposed development near Mayfield, the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) initiated the East Ada County Hydrologic Project to improve the scientific understanding of the groundwater resources in the area.

The...

Contacts: Candice Hopkins
Date published: September 9, 2014
Status: Completed

Evaluating Geothermal Groundwater Levels to Support Bruneau Hot Springsnail Recovery

The endangered Bruneau hot springsnail (Pyrgulopsis bruneauensis) exists only in a geographically limited habitat of thermal springs and seeps in southwestern Idaho. As a part of its 2002 recovery plan for the springsnail, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) targeted conservation efforts to increase groundwater levels in the Bruneau area to protect the geothermal spring discharges...

Contacts: Candice Hopkins
Date published: May 1, 2014

Updating Low-Flow Statistics at USGS Streamgages and Regionalization of Selected Low-Flow Characteristics for Alabama Streams

As part of their mission to protect public health and aquatic ecosystems, Alabama state agencies need accurate and representative streamflow statistics to establish realistic and applicable criteria for both water quality and water quantity (fig. 1). Historically, low-flow statistics, such as the annual minimum 7-day average flow that likely will occur, on average, once every 10 years (7Q10),...

Date published: January 2, 2014
Status: Completed

Assessing Groundwater/Surface Water Interaction and Stream Discharge Uncertainty in the Snake River

The State of Idaho needs to determine stream discharge, adjusted to remove fluctuations resulting from the operation of hydropower facilities, in the Snake River below Swan Falls Dam near Murphy, Idaho. The State will use this information to distribute water to owners of water rights in the middle Snake River, particularly at thresholds of 3,900 and 5,600 ft3/s.

Water exchange between...

Contacts: David M Evetts
Date published: January 1, 2014
Status: Completed

Coeur d'Alene Lake Water Budget

Development around Coeur d'Alene Lake has accelerated over the past 25 years. Commercial and residential development adjacent to the lake plus demands for irrigation, recreation, and hydropower raise concerns about the potential for declining lake levels.

A comprehensive lake water budget helps resource managers determine the possible effects of growth on lake levels.

Contacts: Molly A Maupin
Date published: January 1, 2014
Status: Completed

Coeur d'Alene Lake Water Quality

The mining district in the South Fork Coeur d’Alene River valley was among the Nation’s largest producers of silver, lead, zinc, and other metals from the 1880s to the 1980s. These activities have produced large quantities of waste material that contain environmentally hazardous contaminants such as cadmium, lead, and zinc. Much of this material has been discharged directly to or washed into...

Date published: October 31, 2013
Status: Active

Clackamas River Basin Water-Quality Assessment

Starting in 1997, the USGS began routinely studying water resources in the Clackamas River Basin. Whether it be assessing harmful algal blooms, runoff issues, streamflow, or watershed health, the USGS has worked with its partners to maintain one of Oregon's most beloved rivers.

Date published: September 22, 2012

U.S. Geological Survey Flood Inundation Mapping Science

Static flood-inundation map libraries consist of maps that have been created in advance of a flood that are ready to be served through the Internet. Each library consists of a set of flood extent and depth maps developed for predetermined stream stage intervals (for example, a map for each one foot of stage). A user can view real-time or forecast stage data from a USGS streamgage or National...

Filter Total Items: 15,153
Year Published: 2018

Comparability among four invertebrate sampling methods and two multimetric indexes, Fountain Creek Basin, Colorado, 2010–2012

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with Colorado Springs City Engineering and Colorado Springs Utilities, analyzed previously collected invertebrate data to determine the comparability among four sampling methods and two versions (2010 and 2017) of the Colorado Benthic Macroinvertebrate Multimetric Index (MMI). For this study,...

Bruce, James F.; Roberts, James J.; Zuellig, Robert E.
Bruce, J.F., Roberts, J.J., and Zuellig, R.E., 2018, Comparability among four invertebrate sampling methods and two multimetric indexes, Fountain Creek Basin, Colorado, 2010–2012: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2018–5061, 11 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20185061.

Year Published: 2018

Aligning environmental management with ecosystem resilience: a First Foods example from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Oregon, USA

The concept of “reciprocity” between humans and other biota arises from the creation belief of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR). The concept acknowledges a moral and practical obligation for humans and biota to care for and sustain one another, and arises from human gratitude and reverence for the contributions...

Quaempts, Eric J; Jones, Krista; O'Daniel, Scott J.; Beechie, Timothy J.; Poole, Geoffrey C.
Quaempts, E. J., K. L. Jones, S. J. O'Daniel, T. J. Beechie, and G. C. Poole. 2018. Aligning environmental management with ecosystem resilience: a First Foods example from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Oregon, USA. Ecology and Society 23(2):29. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-10080-230229

Year Published: 2018

Unprecedented biological shifts in the global ocean

Beaugrand, G.; Conversi, A.; Atkinson, A.; Cloern, James E.; Chiba, S.; Fonda-Umani, S.; Kirby, R.R.; Greene, C.H.; Mantua, N.; Goberville, E.; Otto, S.A.; Reid, P.C.; Stemmann, L.; Sugisaki, H.; Edwards, M.

Year Published: 2018

A biodynamic understanding of dietborne and waterborne Ag uptake from Ag NPs in the sediment-dwelling oligochaete, Tubifex tubifex

Metal nanoparticles (Me-NPs) are increasingly used in various products, such as inks and cosmetics, enhancing the likelihood of their release into aquatic environments. An understanding of the mechanisms controlling their bioaccumulation and ecotoxicity in aquatic biota will help support environmental risk...

Tangaa, Stine Rosendal; Winther-Nielsen, Margrethe; Selck, Henriette; Croteau, Marie-Noele

Year Published: 2018

Blurred lines: Multiple freshwater and marine algal toxins at the land-sea interface of San Francisco Bay, California

San Francisco Bay (SFB) is a eutrophic estuary that harbors both freshwater and marine toxigenic organisms that are responsible for harmful algal blooms. While there are few commercial fishery harvests within SFB, recreational and subsistence harvesting for shellfish is common. Coastal shellfish are monitored for domoic acid and...

Peacock, Melissa B.; Gibble, Corinne M.; Senn, David B.; Cloern, James E.; Kudela, Raphael M.

Year Published: 2018

Nanomaterials in the environment: Behavior, fate, bioavailability, and effects—An updated review

The present review covers developments in studies of nanomaterials (NMs) in the environment since our much cited review in 2008. We discuss novel insights into fate and behavior, metrology, transformations, bioavailability, toxicity mechanisms, and environmental impacts, with a focus on terrestrial and aquatic systems. Overall, the findings were...

Lead, Jamie R.; Batley, Graeme E.; Alvarez, Pedro J.J.; Croteau, Marie-Noele; Handy, Richard D.; McLaughlin, Michael J.; Judy, Jonathon D.; Schirmer, Kristin

Year Published: 2018

Streamflow, water quality, and constituent loads and yields, Scituate Reservoir Drainage Area, Rhode Island, water year 2015

Streamflow and concentrations of sodium and chloride estimated from records of specific conductance were used to calculate loads of sodium and chloride during water year (WY) 2015 (October 1, 2014, through September 30, 2015) for tributaries to the Scituate Reservoir, Rhode Island. Streamflow and water-quality data used in the study were collected...

Smith, Kirk P.
Smith, K.P., 2018, Streamflow, water quality, and constituent loads and yields, Scituate Reservoir drainage area, Rhode Island, water year 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1065, 28 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181065.

Year Published: 2018

Comparison of NEXRAD multisensor precipitation estimates to rain gage observations in and near DuPage County, Illinois, 2002–12

In this report, precipitation data from 2002 to 2012 from the hourly gridded Next-Generation Radar (NEXRAD)-based Multisensor Precipitation Estimate (MPE) precipitation product are compared to precipitation data from two rain gage networks—an automated tipping bucket network of 25 rain gages operated by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and 51...

Spies, Ryan R.; Over, Thomas M.; Ortel, Terry W.
Spies, R.R., Over, T.M., and Ortel, T.W., 2018, Comparison of NEXRAD multisensor precipitation estimates to rain gage observations in and near DuPage County, Illinois, 2002–12: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1061, 30 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181061.

Year Published: 2018

Analysis of groundwater response to tidal fluctuations, Operable Unit 2, Area 8, Naval Base Kitsap, Keyport, Washington

Operable Unit 2, Area 8, at Naval Base Kitsap, Keyport is the site of a former chrome-plating facility that released metals (primarily chromium and cadmium), chlorinated volatile organic compounds, and petroleum compounds into the local environment. To ensure long-term protectiveness, as stipulated in the Fourth Five-Year Review for the site,...

Opatz, Chad C.; Dinicola, Richard S.
Opatz, C.C., and Dinicola, R.S., 2018, Analysis of groundwater response to tidal fluctuations, Operable Unit 2, Area 8, Naval Base Kitsap, Keyport, Washington: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018-1082, 20 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181082.

Year Published: 2018

Do downscaled general circulation models reliably simulate historical climatic conditions?

The accuracy of statistically downscaled (SD) general circulation model (GCM) simulations of monthly surface climate for historical conditions (1950–2005) was assessed for the conterminous United States (CONUS). The SD monthly precipitation (PPT) and temperature (TAVE) from 95 GCMs from phases 3 and 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (...

Bock, Andrew R.; Hay, Lauren E.; McCabe, Gregory J.; Markstrom, Steven L.; Atkinson, R. Dwight
Bock, A.R., L.E. Hay, G.J. McCabe, S.L. Markstrom, and R.D. Atkinson, 2018: Do Downscaled General Circulation Models Reliably Simulate Historical Climatic Conditions?: Earth Interact., v. 22, p.1-22. https://doi.org/10.1175/EI-D-17-0018.1.

Year Published: 2018

Surface-water quality in the Lycoming Creek watershed, north-central Pennsylvania, August 1–3, 2011

This report presents the methodology and results for a study of surface-water quality of the Lycoming Creek watershed in north-central Pennsylvania during August 1–3, 2011. The study was done in cooperation with the Williamsport Municipal Water Authority and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Samples of stream water were...

Risser, Dennis W.; Conlon, Matthew D.
Risser, D.W., and Conlon, M.D., 2018, Surface-water quality in the Lycoming Creek watershed, north-central Pennsylvania, August 1–3, 2011: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5154, 77 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20175154.

Year Published: 2018

A method to quantify and value floodplain sediment and nutrient retention ecosystem services

Floodplains provide critical ecosystem services to local and downstream communities by retaining floodwaters, sediments, and nutrients. The dynamic nature of floodplains is such that these areas can both accumulate sediment and nutrients through deposition, and export material downstream through erosion. Therefore, estimating floodplain sediment...

Hopkins, Kristina G.; Noe, Gregory; Franco, Fabiano; Pindilli, Emily; Gordon, Stephanie; Metes, Marina J.; Claggett, Peter; Gellis, Allen; Hupp, Cliff R.; Hogan, Dianna
Hopkins, K.G., G.B. Noe, F. Franco, E.J. Pindilli, S. Gordon, M.J. Metes, P.R. Claggett, A.C. Gellis, C.R. Hupp, D.M. Hogan. 2018. A method to quantify and value floodplain sediment and nutrient retention ecosystem services. Journal of Environmental Management, 220: 65-76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.05.013

The USGS produces many types of multimedia products. Use the links below to browse our offerings of photograph galleries, podcasts and sound files, videos, aerial photos, and posters related to water. The USGS Newsroom has a Web page that highlights the main collection of multimedia products.

Filter Total Items: 1,223
A USGS hydrologic technician installs a Rapid-Deployment Gauge on a bridge in Norfolk, Virginia.
September 30, 2017

A USGS hydrologic technician installs a Rapid-Deployment Gauge

Jim Duda, USGS hydrologic technician, installs a Rapid-Deployment Gauge near the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Virginia, to monitor elevated water levels caused by Hurricane Jose. An RDG is a fully functional streamgage designed to be quickly deployed for real-time data monitoring of a stream or river in emergency situations. RDGs are indispensable tools used for flood

...
September 30, 2017

Borehole Nuclear Magnetic Resonance for Environmental Site Management

Borehole nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is an emerging geophysical method being applied to hydrogeology investigations. NMR is a quantitative geophysical method that can be used to make in situ assessments of porosity, water content, mobile and immobile water fraction, and estimates of permeability. While borehole NMR is commonly used in the oil and gas industry, it is

...
Attribution: Water Resources
USGS scientists collect a sediment sample from Brownlee Reservoir
September 28, 2017

USGS scientists collect a sediment sample from Brownlee Reservoir

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and Idaho Power Company collected water, sediment, and biological samples from Brownlee Reservoir as part of an ongoing, cooperative study of mercury cycling in the Hells Canyon complex of reservoirs along the Snake River bordering Idaho and Oregon. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is also a partner in the study. 

...
Hydro techs from the New Mexico Water Science Center perform a well integrity test
September 19, 2017

Hydro Techs Perform Well Integrity Test

On September 19th, 2017 staff from the USGS NM WSC Albuquerque and Las Cruces offices visited a Climate Response Network (CRN) well just on the east side of the Organ Mountains outside of Las Cruces to receive training on integrity testing groundwater wells. What is integrity testing? Integrity testing involves adding a slug of clean water to a well and measuring how fast

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Image shows a USGS scientist in a PFD taking a high-water measurement
September 11, 2017

Taking a High-Water Mark after Hurricane Harvey

USGS scientist Steve Hannes marks high water marks along the Colorado River after flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Wharton County, Texas.

Image shows a USGS scientist in a PFD taking a high-water measurement
September 11, 2017

Taking a High-Water Mark after Hurricane Harvey

USGS scientist Steve Hannes marks high water marks along the Colorado River after flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Wharton County, Texas.

Image shows a USGS scientist in a PDF taking a high-water mark
September 11, 2017

Taking a High-Water Mark after Hurricane Harvey

USGS scientist Steve Hannes marks high water marks along the Colorado River after flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Wharton County, Texas.

Image shows a USGS scientist in a PFD taking a high-water mark
September 11, 2017

Taking a High-Water Mark after Hurricane Harvey

USGS scientist Steve Hannes marks high water marks along the Colorado River after flooding from Harvey in Matagorda County, Texas.

A small boat with scientific equipment loaded onboard resting near shore of a lake.
September 10, 2017

"Miss Q" Ready to Go

The Maine Office boat, "Miss Q", is parked next to the boat launch on Verona Island, ready to begin data collection on the Penobscot River. The crew was preparing to collect ADCP data (depth and velocity) as well as conductivity, temperature and depth profiles at various locations. In the background is the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Fort Knox.

Hurricane Irma satellite image
September 5, 2017

Hurricane Irma on the Move

Satellite Image of Hurricane Irma on September 5, 2017. Photo by NASA/NOAA GOES Project

Preparing to measure Irma's storm surge in Puerto Rico
September 4, 2017

Preparing to measure Irma's storm surge in Puerto Rico

Along the northeast coast of Puerto Rico, USGS hydrologic technician Francisco Almanzar surveys reference elevation points to ensure the accuracy of water level data. Almanzar and other USGS employees installed nine storm surge sensors along the coast on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4, 2017 as Hurricane Irma approached. 

August 31, 2017

Image of the Week: Hurricane Harvey Inundates Gulf Coast

Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25th. Over the next few days, record rain totals had devastated the area.

At the USGS EROS Center, we study land change, operate the Landsat satellites, and maintain the longest, continuously acquired collection of images of the Earth's land surface.

USGS EROS Center (

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Filter Total Items: 375
Date published: August 24, 2016

Media Advisory: USGS Crews Measure Flooding in Northeast Iowa

Reporters: Do you want to accompany a USGS field crew as they measure flooding? Please contact Jason McVay at 319-430-6962.

Date published: August 23, 2016

USGS Streamgage Reactivated After 13 Year Absence

A U.S. Geological Survey streamgage, dormant since 2003, was recently reactivated in the city of Frankton, Indiana through a funding partnership with the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Date published: August 22, 2016

Fighting the Floods

The USGS response to the Louisiana floods is part of the larger USGS flood science mission...

Date published: August 19, 2016

Backwater Flooding in Baton Rouge

Wonder what Backwater Flooding is? We've got your answer here...

Date published: August 19, 2016

Science Continues during Flood Recovery

All affected USGS scientists are alive and well, and our flood work continues...

Date published: August 18, 2016

USGS Records Historic Flooding in South Louisiana

Six streamgages Set peaks of record and 50 stations were overtopped by floodwaters.

Date published: August 18, 2016

Water Levels Declining in Areas Along San Pedro River near Sierra Vista, Arizona

Streamflow and groundwater levels are declining in some locations along the San Pedro River near Sierra Vista, Arizona, according to a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Date published: August 15, 2016

EarthWord–Salinity

Feeling salty over our bad jokes? Then this EarthWord’s for you!

Date published: August 15, 2016

Groundwater Recharge in Upper Colorado River Basin May Hold Steady Under Climate Change

Future groundwater replenishment in the Upper Colorado River Basin may benefit from projected increases in future basin-wide precipitation under current climate projections, according to a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey and Bureau of Reclamation.

Date published: August 11, 2016

Discover Jemez Postwildfire Debris-Flow Hazards With the Click of a Mouse

A new interactive map and companion report from the U.S. Geological Survey allows residents living in and around New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains to see where they’re located in relation to postwildfire debris-flow hazards.

Date published: August 11, 2016

New USGS Streamgages Bolster Protection of Hoosier Lives, Property

Two new streamgages recently installed by the U.S. Geological Survey in the cities of Greenfield and Elwood, Indiana will provide continuous, real-time streamflow and water level information in areas that have demonstrated a need for reliable flood warning and flood-related data.  

Filter Total Items: 1,824