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: 161
Date published: January 2, 2017
Status: Completed

Wood River Valley Hydrologic Trends and Comparisons

Wood River Valley residents rely on groundwater for domestic supply, either from domestic or municipal-supply wells. The rapid population growth since the 1970s has caused concern about the long-term sustainability of the groundwater resource.

Date published: January 1, 2017
Status: Completed

Effects of Nutrient Enrichment on Stream Ecosystems (Upper Snake River Basin NAWQA)

Nutrient enrichment can affect the ecological health of a stream. For example, excessive aquatic plant growth caused by increased nutrients can reduce dissolved oxygen necessary for other aquatic life. Topics of particular interest in this study area include:

seasonal patterns among nutrients, flows, algae and plants in streams

rooted aquatic plant vs. algae growth

stream...

Date published: January 1, 2017
Status: Completed

Debris-Flow Hazard Assessment of the Area Burned by the 2013 Beaver Creek Fire

In August 2013, the Beaver Creek wildfire burned more than 100,000 acres of public and private land northwest of Hailey, Idaho. According to the U.S. Forest Service, about 57 percent of the area is considered moderately burned, and the risk of post-fire soil erosion is high on more than 8,400 acres.

Date published: January 1, 2017
Status: Completed

Surrogate Technologies for Estimating Suspended Sediment in the Snake and Clearwater Rivers

Because fluvial sediment poses both economic and ecological problems, resource managers need a safe, cost-effective way to measure sediment in streams, particularly in remote areas.

Contacts: Ryan L Fosness
Date published: January 1, 2017
Status: Completed

Lower Granite Reservoir Bathymetric and Underwater Video Surveys

Sedimentation of Lower Granite Reservoir, operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, affects commercial navigation and reservoir storage capacity. Some groups are concerned that dredging the reservoir to remove excess sediment may negatively affect endangered species such as steelhead and salmon.

Contacts: Ryan L Fosness
Date published: January 1, 2017
Status: Completed

Lower Granite Reservoir Bed Sediment Coring and Analysis

Some groups are concerned that dredging the reservoir and the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers to remove excess sediment may mobilize contaminants in sediment that could negatively affect endangered species such as steelhead and salmon.

Contacts: Ryan L Fosness
Date published: January 1, 2017
Status: Completed

Sediment Sampling in the Snake and Clearwater River Basins

Are there ways to manage sediment before it accumulates in Lower Granite Reservoir? If so, resource managers must know exactly how much sediment is being transported in the lower Snake and Clearwater River basins, the grain-size distribution of the sediment that is being transported, which subbasins are contributing the most sediment, and how the sediment is being deposited once it is...

Date published: December 3, 2016

Erosion and Invasive Saltcedar

Formation of arroyos in the late 1800s greatly increased erosion across the southwestern United States. Since the 1930s, however, this erosion has decreased, partly because of bank stabilization by introduced saltcedar. With Isleta Pueblo Indian Nation, the Aquatic Systems Branch developed a new sediment dating method using saltcedar tree rings. We applied the method in a landmark study of...

Date published: October 26, 2016
Status: Active

Economics and Ecosystem Services

Federal policymakers and land managers are accountable to the public for how they use public resources and for the outcomes of policy and management decisions. Through a variety of economic analyses and custom modeling, SEA economists evaluate how investments and management decisions affect individuals, local communities, and society as a whole.

Date published: September 29, 2016

Structure maps of the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer in northwestern Louisiana

Groundwater resources in northwestern Louisiana may be needed for development of natural gas production from the Haynesville Shale. Use of groundwater for hydro-fracturing of the shale may lower water levels and alter groundwater flow directions in the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer and other local aquifers. Regional maps of aquifers in northwestern Louisiana are unavailable. The LaWSC, in cooperation...

Date published: September 28, 2016

Water Use Trends in Alabama

Since 1950 when the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) first conducted water-use compilations, important changes in water use have occurred in Alabama. The early part of the history (1950 to 1980) showed a steady increase in water use. During this time, the expectation was that, as the population increased, so would water use. Contrary to this expectation, reported water withdrawals declined in...

Date published: September 26, 2016

Lower Tennessee River (LTEN) Basin Study

Welcome....the Lower Tennessee River Basin in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi is one of the 59 study units that are part of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program.The long-term goals of this program are to describe the status and trends in the quality of a large, representative part of the Nation's surface- and ground-water...

Filter Total Items: 14,123
Year Published: 2018

Postwildfire measurement of soil physical and hydraulic properties at selected sampling sites in the 2011 Las Conchas wildfire burn scar, Jemez Mountains, north-central New Mexico

The generation of runoff and the resultant flash flooding can be substantially larger following wildfire than for similar rainstorms that precede wildfire disturbance. Flash flooding after the 2011 Las Conchas Fire in New Mexico provided the motivation for this investigation to assess postwildfire effects on soil-hydraulic properties (SHPs) and...

Romero, Orlando C.; Ebel, Brian A.; Martin, Deborah A.; Buchan, Katie W.; Jornigan, Alanna D.
Romero, O.C., Ebel, B.A., Martin, D.A., Buchan, K.W., and Jornigan, A.D., 2018, Postwildfire measurement of soil physical and hydraulic properties at selected sampling sites in the 2011 Las Conchas wildfire burn scar, Jemez Mountains, north-central New Mexico: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2018–5028, 35 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20185028.

Year Published: 2018

Simulating selenium and nitrogen fate and transport in coupled stream-aquifer systems of irrigated regions

Elevated levels of selenium (Se) in aqueous environments can harm aquatic life and endanger livestock and human health. Although Se occurs naturally in the rocks and soils of many alluvial aquifers, mining and agricultural activities can increase its rate of mobilization and transport to surface waters. Attention is given here to regions where...

Shultz, Christopher D.; Bailey, Ryan T. ; Gates, Timothy K.; Heesemann, Brent E.; Morway, Eric D.

Year Published: 2018

Documentation of particle-size analyzer time series, and discrete suspended-sediment and bed-sediment sample data collection, Niobrara River near Spencer, Nebraska, October 2014

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, monitored a sediment release by Nebraska Public Power District from Spencer Dam located on the Niobrara River near Spencer, Nebraska, during the fall of 2014. The accumulated sediment behind Spencer Dam ordinarily is released semiannually; however, the spring...

Schaepe, Nathaniel J.; Coleman, Anthony M.; Zelt, Ronald B.
Schaepe, N.J., Coleman, A.M., and Zelt, R.B., 2018, Documentation of particle-size analyzer time series, and discrete suspended-sediment and bed-sediment sample data collection, Niobrara River near Spencer, Nebraska, October 2014: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1079, 11 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ds1079.

Year Published: 2018

Hydrologic assessment and numerical simulation of groundwater flow, San Juan Mine, San Juan County, New Mexico, 2010–13

Coal combustion byproducts (CCBs), which are composed of fly ash, bottom ash, and flue gas desulfurization material, produced at the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station (SJGS), located in San Juan County, New Mexico, have been buried in former surface-mine pits at the San Juan Mine, also referred to as the San Juan Coal Mine, since operations...

Stewart, Anne M.
Stewart, A.M., 2018, Hydrologic assessment and numerical simulation of groundwater flow, San Juan Mine, San Juan County, New Mexico, 2010–13: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5155, 94 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20175155.

Year Published: 2018

On the sensitivity of annual streamflow to air temperature

Although interannual streamflow variability is primarily a result of precipitation variability, temperature also plays a role. The relative weakness of the temperature effect at the annual time scale hinders understanding, but may belie substantial importance on climatic time scales. Here we develop and evaluate a simple theory relating variations...

Milly, Paul C.D.; Kam, Jonghun; Dunne, Krista A.
Milly, P. C. D., Kam, J., & Dunne, K. A. (2018). On the sensitivity of annual streamflow to air temperature. Water Resources Research, 54.

Year Published: 2018

Quantifying differences in responses of aquatic insects to trace metal exposure in field studies and short-term stream mesocosm experiments

Characterizing macroinvertebrate taxa as either sensitive or tolerant is of critical importance for investigating impacts of anthropogenic stressors in aquatic ecosystems and for inferring causality. However, our understanding of relative sensitivity of aquatic insects to metals in the field and under controlled conditions in the laboratory or...

Iwasaki, Yuichi; Schmidt, Travis S.; Clements, William H.
Iwasaki, Y., Schmidt, T.S., and Clements, W.H., 2018, Quantifying Differences in Responses of Aquatic Insects to Trace Metal Exposure in Field Studies and Short-Term Stream Mesocosm Experiments: Environmental Science & Technology, v.52, no.7, p.4378-4384. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.7b06628

Year Published: 2018

The GFDL global atmosphere and land model AM4.0/LM4.0: 1. Simulation characteristics with prescribed SSTs

In this two‐part paper, a description is provided of a version of the AM4.0/LM4.0 atmosphere/land model that will serve as a base for a new set of climate and Earth system models (CM4 and ESM4) under development at NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL). This version, with roughly 100 km horizontal resolution and 33 levels in the...

Zhao, M.; Golaz, J.-C.; Held, I. M.; Guo, H.; Balaji, V.; Benson, R.; Chen, J.-H.; Chen, X.; Donner, L. J.; Dunne, J. P.; Dunne, Krista A.; Durachta, J.; Fan, S.-M.; Freidenreich, S. M.; Garner, S. T.; Ginoux, P.; Harris, L. M.; Horowitz, L. W.; Krasting, J. P.; Langenhorst, A. R.; Liang, Z.; Lin, P.; Lin, S.-J.; Malyshev, S. L.; Mason, E.; Milly, Paul C.D.; Ming, Y.; Naik, V.; Paulot, F.; Paynter, D.; Phillipps, P.; Radhakrishnan, A.; Ramaswamy, V.; Robinson, T.; Schwarzkopf, D.; Seman, C. J.; Shevliakova, E.; Shen, Z.; Shin, H.; Silvers, L.; Wilson, J. R.; Winton, M.; Wittenberg, A. T.; Wyman, B.; Xiang, B.
Zhao, M., Golaz, J.-C., Held, I. M., Guo, H., Balaji, V., Benson, R., et al. (2018). The GFDL global atmosphere and land model AM4.0/LM4.0: 1. Simulation characteristics with prescribed SSTs. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 10. https://doi.org/10.1002/ 2017MS001208

Year Published: 2018

The GFDL global atmosphere and land model AM4.0/LM4.0: 2. Model description, sensitivity studies, and tuning strategies

In Part 2 of this two‐part paper, documentation is provided of key aspects of a version of the AM4.0/LM4.0 atmosphere/land model that will serve as a base for a new set of climate and Earth system models (CM4 and ESM4) under development at NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL). The quality of the simulation in AMIP (Atmospheric Model...

Zhao, M.; Golaz, J.-C.; Held, I. M.; Guo, H.; Balaji, V.; Benson, R.; Chen, J.-H.; Chen, X.; Donner, L. J.; Dunne, J. P.; Dunne, Krista A.; Durachta, J.; Fan, S.-M.; Freidenreich, S. M.; Garner, S. T.; Ginoux, P.; Harris, L. M.; Horowitz, L. W.; Krasting, J. P.; Langenhorst, A. R.; Liang, Z.; Lin, P.; Lin, S.-J.; Malyshev, S. L.; Mason, E.; Milly, Paul C.D.; Ming, Y.; Naik, V.; Paulot, F.; Paynter, D.; Phillipps, P.; Radhakrishnan, A.; Ramaswamy, V.; Robinson, T.; Schwarzkopf, D.; Seman, C. J.; Shevliakova, E.; Shen, Z.; Shin, H.; Silvers, L.; Wilson, J. R.; Winton, M.; Wittenberg, A. T.; Wyman, B.; Xiang, B.
Zhao, M., Golaz, J.-C., Held, I. M.,Guo, H., Balaji, V., Benson, R., et al.(2018). The GFDL global atmosphere and land model AM4.0/LM4.0:2. Model description, sensitivity studies, and tuning strategies.Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems,10.

Year Published: 2018

Data analysis considerations for pesticides determined by National Water Quality Laboratory schedule 2437

In 2013, the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Laboratory (NWQL) made a new method available for the analysis of pesticides in filtered water samples: laboratory schedule 2437. Schedule 2437 is an improvement on previous analytical methods because it determines the concentrations of 225 fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, and...

Shoda, Megan E.; Nowell, Lisa H.; Stone, Wesley W.; Sandstrom, Mark W.; Bexfield, Laura M.
Attribution: Water Resources
Shoda, M.E., Nowell, L.H., Stone, W.W., Sandstrom, M.W., and Bexfield, L.M., 2018, Data analysis considerations for pesticides determined by National Water Quality Laboratory schedule 2437: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2018-5007, 458 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20185007.

Year Published: 2018

Common hydraulic fracturing fluid additives alter the structure and function of anaerobic microbial communities

The development of unconventional oil and gas (UOG) resources results in the production of large volumes of wastewater containing a complex mixture of hydraulic fracturing chemical additives and components from the formation. The release of these wastewaters into the environment poses potential risks that are poorly understood. Microbial...

Mumford, Adam C.; Akob, Denise M.; Klinges, J. Grace; Cozzarelli, Isabelle M.
Mumford AC, Akob DM, Klinges JG, Cozzarelli IM. 2018. Common hydraulic fracturing fluid additives alter the structure and function of anaerobic microbial communities. Appl Environ Microbiol 84:e02729-17

Year Published: 2018

Factors affecting long-term trends in surface-water quality in the Gwynns Falls watershed, Baltimore City and County, Maryland, 1998–2016

Factors affecting water-quality trends in urban streams are not well understood, despite current regulatory requirements and considerable ongoing investments in gray and green infrastructure. To address this gap, long-term water-quality trends and factors affecting these trends were examined in the Gwynns Falls, Maryland, watershed during 1998–...

Majcher, Emily H.; Woytowitz, Ellen L.; Reisinger, Alexander J.; Groffman, Peter M.
Majcher, E.H., Woytowitz, E.L., Reisinger, A.J., and Groffman, P.M., 2018, Factors affecting long-term trends in surface-water quality in the Gwynns Falls watershed, Baltimore City and County, Maryland, 1998–2016: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1038, 27 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181038.

Year Published: 2018

Water-quality, bed-sediment, and biological data (October 2015 through September 2016) and statistical summaries of data for streams in the Clark Fork Basin, Montana

Water, bed sediment, and biota were sampled in selected streams from Butte to near Missoula, Montana, as part of a monitoring program in the upper Clark Fork Basin of western Montana. The sampling program was led by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to characterize aquatic resources in the...

Dodge, Kent A.; Hornberger, Michelle I.; Turner, Matthew A.
Dodge, K.A., Hornberger, M.I., and Turner, M.A., 2018, Water-quality, bed-sediment, and biological data (October 2015 through September 2016) and statistical summaries of data for streams in the Clark Fork Basin, Montana: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2017–1136, 118 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20171136.

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: 944
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 (https://eros.usgs.gov...

USGS scientists Lisa Ashmore and Lee Bodkin collect water-quality samples on Lake Houston in response to Harvey.
August 31, 2017

Collecting Water Quality Samples following Harvey

USGS scientists Lisa Ashmore and Lee Bodkin collect water-quality samples on Lake Houston in response to the high flow conditions that resulted from Harvey. 

Image shows a USGS scientist in a PFD servicing a streamgage
August 31, 2017

Servicing a Streamgage at Addicks Reservoir following Hurricane Harvey

USGS scientist Jimmy Hopkins repairs a streamgage downstream of Addicks reservoir at Buffalo Bayou after flooding from Hurricane Harvey. This gauge is normally accessed on land from a platform on the side of a bridge.

USGS scientist Lisa Ashmore services a water-quality monitor on Lake Houston. These instruments stayed afloat throughout Harvey.
August 31, 2017

Servicing a water-quality monitor following Harvey

USGS scientist Lisa Ashmore services a water-quality monitor on Lake Houston. These instruments stayed afloat and collected data throughout Harvey. 

Image shows USGS scientists planning their water quality work on a whiteboard
August 31, 2017

Water Quality Sampling Planning Following Hurricane Harvey

A peek into a USGS planning meeting to coordinate water-quality sampling efforts in response to Harvey. This sampling effort is part of the federal government’s broad efforts to ensure public health and to support the state, tribal, and local response to the storm

Filter Total Items: 365
Date published: March 27, 2017

Public Invitation: The State of Your State’s Vital Water Resources

Media and the public are invited to attend a free meeting about South Dakota water issues on Thursday, April 6, in Rapid City, South Dakota. 

Date published: March 27, 2017

Helping Desert Communities Find Hidden Water

Desert communities throughout the Southwest are putting water availability at the top of their municipal agendas.

Date published: March 15, 2017

Information Flows Freely, Even in a Drought

The Colorado River system provides about 35 million Americans with a portion of their water supply. It irrigates 5½ million acres of land in the West and provides water to tribes, parks, and wildlife. The system serves parts of seven States and Mexico—but reservoir levels have crept lower over the past several years, sparking questions about how much water remains and who will have access.

Date published: March 13, 2017

Water managers explore new strategies to protect fish in California’s Bay Delta

The water in the Delta arrives primarily from the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, supplying water for more than 22 million people. This water source supports California’s trillion-dollar economy—the sixth largest in the world—and its $27 billion agricultural industry.

Date published: March 9, 2017

How Well Do You Know Groundwater

Groundwater, which flows out of sight through aquifers beneath our feet, is one of the Nation’s most important natural resources. In recognition of National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 5–11, 2017, here’s an opportunity to put your knowledge of this vital resource to the test!

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 8, 2017

Understanding Managed Aquifer Recharge as a Water Storage Option in the Pojoaque River Basin

In order to provide long-term storage of diverted surface water from the Rio Grande as part of the Aamodt water rights settlement, managed aquifer recharge by surface infiltration in Pojoaque River Basin arroyos was proposed as an option.

Date published: March 7, 2017

Worth the Weight: New Table Aims to Clarify Variable Atomic Weight Values

The new table includes both standard and conventional atomic weights values to clarify that many atomic weights have natural variation and to provide single values for chemical education use

Date published: March 6, 2017

The Challenge of Tracking Nutrient Pollution 2,300 Miles

Nitrogen and phosphorus are essential nutrients—yet too much of a good thing is not always a good thing. Scientists are investigating nutrient pollution down the Mississippi River.

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 6, 2017

USGS Finds Elevated Levels of Arsenic, Radon, Methane in Some Private Wells in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania

Tests of 75 private drinking water wells in Lycoming County, in north-central Pennsylvania, found water from most of the sampled wells contained concentrations of radon that exceeded a proposed, nonbinding health standard for drinking water. Smaller percentages of the wells contained concentrations of arsenic or methane that exceed existing drinking water standards.

Date published: March 2, 2017

Human, Cattle Viruses Detected in Some Great Lakes Tributaries

Human and bovine, or cattle, viruses were detected in a small percentage of some Great Lakes Basin streams, with human viruses more prevalent in urban streams and bovine viruses more common in streams in agricultural areas, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey-led study.

Date published: February 28, 2017

New USGS Streamgages Provide Flood Monitoring for Additional Philadelphia Neighborhoods

Philadelphia communities along the Schuylkill River and Darby Creek now have new tools to help inform residents of impending flooding. The U.S. Geological Survey recently installed three new streamgages in Manayunk, Eastwick, and downtown near 30th St., which will monitor water levels, and provide vital data used by emergency managers and flood forecasters to help protect lives and property. 

Date published: February 27, 2017

40-year trend study finds signs of improved water quality in New Jersey streams

A USGS analysis of New Jersey water quality trends found levels of total nitrogen and total phosphorus, which fuel algae blooms, declined or stayed the same at most stream sites between the 1970s and 2011. At all sites studied, chlorides from road salt increased over that time.