Mission Areas

Water

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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: 145
Osprey on nest
Date Published: March 31, 2017
Status: Completed

The Columbia River provides important hydroelectric power generation, valuable recreational and tribal fisheries, extensive recreational areas and scenic beauty, and habitat for wildlife and fish. The lower Columbia River below Bonneville is the largest remaining free-flowing reach not impounded by hydroelectric dams, and is critical to the viability of culturally significant fish populations...

Trumpeter swans, Camas National Wildlife Refuge
Date Published: March 9, 2017

STATUS: Completed

The Camas National Wildlife Refugeprovides essential resting, feeding, and nesting habitat for waterfowl including migratory birds. A variety of other animals, large and small, are found there, too. Since the refuge was established in 1937, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has been responsible for managing this vital resource.

Traditionally, Camas...

Agricultural lands in Arizona, thumbnail
Date Published: March 9, 2017

Because of the predominantly semiarid to arid climate in Arizona, economic development in the State is largely influenced by access to adequate water supplies. Water demand is met by pumping ground water from aquifers or by conveying surface water through a system of reservoirs and canals. Anthropogenic water use is a significant component of the hydrologic cycle in Arizona, and accurate...

Scientist services an automatic sampler, in the snow, that has been installed at the gaging station on Clear Creek in Nevada.
Date Published: March 9, 2017
Status: Active

Clear Creek is a small alpine stream that begins near Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada. The creek flows roughly parallel to U.S. Highway 50 and discharges to the Carson River near Carson City, Nevada. The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) is concerned about how historical and ongoing development in the Clear Creek drainage basin has/is affecting Clear Creek and its sediment-transport...

Coastal Change Portal Hurricane Matthew 2016
Date Published: February 22, 2017

As Hurricane Matthew moves up the Atlantic coast of the U.S., the USGS South Atlantic Water Science Center (SAWSC) deployed most of the USGS Storm-Tide Network along the Atlantic coast to monitor the timing, extent, and magnitude of the storm tide during the passage of Hurricane Matthew.

• Go to the USGS Hurricane Matthew...

Making an ADCP measurement on the Bear River below Alexander Reservoir, Idaho
Date Published: February 9, 2017

Surface-water information is needed for purposes of surveillance, planning, design, hazard warning, operation, and management, in water-related fields such as water supply, hydroelectric power, flood control, irrigation, bridge and culvert design, wildlife management, pollution abatement, flood-plain management, and water resources development. 

An image of an Ephemeroptera Heptageniidae Epeorus longimanuis.
Date Published: February 2, 2017

Aquatic invertebrates are a key component of freshwater ecosystems, and an understanding of aquatic invertebrate taxonomy is central to freshwater science. The U.S. Geological Survey Aquatic Experimental Lab (AXL) at the Fort Collins Science Center has developed the North American Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Digital Reference Collection (NAAMDRC) to provide users with a graphic tool to aid in...

The Toxics Emerging Contaminants Project’s nation-wide effort assesses the ecological risk associated with EDC in National Parks
Date Published: January 24, 2017

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC) threaten the reproductive success and long-term survival of sensitive aquatic populations in U.S. National Parks. Understanding the ecological impacts of contaminants of emerging concern (CEC), in general, and EDC, in specific, has been identified as a U.S. National Park Service (NPS) management priority.

The project employs a standardized EDC risk...

Schéma obehu vody - The Water Cycle, Slovak
Date Published: January 12, 2017
Status: Active

Oběh vody: The Water Cycle

Co to je oběh vody?

Co to je oběh vody? Mohl bych si jednoduše odpovědět – je všude kolem mne ! Oběh vody znamená přítomnost a pohyb vody na Zemi, v Zemi i nad Zemí. Voda je stále v pohybu a neustále mění svoji formu, z kapalné do plynné či pevné, a naopak. Oběh vody existuje již po miliardy let a veškerý pozemský život je na něm závislý; Země by bez...

Big Wood River at Hailey, Idaho
Date Published: January 2, 2017

STATUS: Completed

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.

Stalker Creek, Idaho, in summer
Date Published: January 1, 2017

STATUS: Completed

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....

Debris flow as result of 2013 Beaver Creek Fire, Idaho
Date Published: January 1, 2017

STATUS: Completed

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.

Filter Total Items: 1,522
Year Published: 2017

Application of an unstructured 3D finite volume numerical model to flows and salinity dynamics in the San Francisco Bay-Delta

A linked modeling approach has been undertaken to understand the impacts of climate and infrastructure on aquatic ecology and water quality in the San Francisco Bay-Delta region. The Delft3D Flexible Mesh modeling suite is used in this effort for its 3D hydrodynamics, salinity, temperature and sediment dynamics, phytoplankton and water-quality...

Martyr-Koller, R.C.; Kernkamp, H.W.J.; Van Dam, Anne A.; Mick van der Wegen; Lucas, Lisa; Knowles, N.; Jaffe, B.; Fregoso, T.A.
Attribution: Water
Martyr-Koller, R.C., Kernkamp, H.W.J., van Dam, A., van der Wegen, M., Lucas, L.V., Knowles, N., Jaffe, B., Fregoso, T.A., 2017, Application of an unstructured 3D finite volume numerical model to flows and salinity dynamics in the San Francisco Bay-Delta: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 192, 86-107, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2017.04.024

Year Published: 2017

Analyzing cloud base at local and regional scales to understand tropical montane cloud forest vulnerability to climate change

The degree to which cloud immersion provides water in addition to rainfall, suppresses transpiration, and sustains tropical montane cloud forests (TMCFs) during rainless periods is not well understood. Climate and land use changes represent a threat to these forests if cloud base altitude rises as a result of regional warming or deforestation. To...

Van Beusekom, Ashley E.; González, Grizelle; Scholl, Martha A.
Attribution: Water
Van Beusekom, A. E., González, G., and Scholl, M. A.:, 2017, Analyzing cloud base at local and regional scales to understand tropical montane cloud forest vulnerability to climate change, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 7245-7259, https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-17-7245-2017.

Year Published: 2017

Complex mixtures of Pesticides in Midwest U.S. streams indicated by POCIS time-integrating samplers

The Midwest United States is an intensely agricultural region where pesticides in streams pose risks to aquatic biota, but temporal variability in pesticide concentrations makes characterization of their exposure to organisms challenging. To compensate for the effects of temporal variability, we deployed polar organic chemical integrative samplers...

Van Metre, Peter C.; Alvarez, David; Mahler, Barbara J.; Nowell, Lisa H.; Sandstrom, Mark W.; Moran, Patrick W.
Attribution: Water
Environ Pollut. 2017 Jan;220(Pt A):431-440. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.09.085. Epub 2016 Sep 30.

Year Published: 2017

Reexamining ultrafiltration and solute transport in groundwater

Geologic ultrafiltration—slowing of solutes with respect to flowing groundwater—poses a conundrum: it is consistently observed experimentally in clay-rich lithologies, but has been difficult to identify in subsurface data. Resolving this could be important for clarifying clay and shale transport properties at large scales as well as interpreting...

Neuzil, Christopher E.; Person, Mark
Attribution: Water
Neuzil, C. E. and M. Person (2017), Reexamining ultrafiltration and solute transport in groundwater, Water Resour. Res., 53, 4922-4941, doi:10.1002/2017WR020492.

Year Published: 2017

Steady state fractionation of heavy noble gas isotopes in a deep unsaturated zone

To explore steady state fractionation processes in the unsaturated zone (UZ), we measured argon, krypton, and xenon isotope ratios throughout a ∼110 m deep UZ at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Amargosa Desert Research Site (ADRS) in Nevada, USA. Prior work has suggested that gravitational settling should create a nearly linear increase...

Seltzer, Alan M.; Severinghaus, Jeffrey P.; Andraski, Brian; Stonestrom, David A.
Attribution: Water
Seltzer, A.M., Severinghaus, J.P., Andraski, B.J., and Stonestrom, D.A., 2017, Steady-state fractionation of heavy noble gas isotopes in a deep unsaturated zone: Water Resources Research, v. 53, p. 2716-2732, doi:10.1002/2016WR019655.

Year Published: 2017

Bacteria versus selenium: A view from the inside out

Bacteria and selenium (Se) are closely interlinked as the element serves both essential nutrient requirements and energy generation functions. However, Se can also behave as a powerful toxicant for bacterial homeostasis. Conversely, bacteria play a tremendous role in the cycling of Se between different environmental compartments, and bacterial...

Staicu, Lucian; Oremland, Ronald S.; Tobe, Ryuta; Mihara, Hisaaki
Attribution: Water
Staicu, L. C.; Oremland, R. S.; Tobe, R.; Mihara, H. Chapter 6: Bacteria Versus Selenium: A View from the Inside Out. In Selenium in plants; Plant Ecophysiology; Springer International Publishing, 2017; Vol. 11, pp 79–108. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-56249-0_6

Year Published: 2017

Methane fluxes from tropical coastal lagoons surrounded bymangroves, Yucatán, Mexico

Methane concentrations in the water column and emissions to the atmosphere were determined for three tropical coastal lagoons surrounded by mangrove forests on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. Surface water dissolved methane was sampled at different seasons over a period of 2 years in areas representing a wide range of salinities and...

Chuang, Pei-Chuan; Young, Megan B.; Dale, Andrew W.; Miller, Laurence G.; Herrera-Silveira, Jorge A; Paytan, Adina
Attribution: Water
Chuang, P.-C., Young, M.B., Dale, A.W., Miller, L.G., Herrera-Silveira, J.A., Paytan, A., 2017, Methane fluxes from tropical coastal lagoons surrounded bymangroves, Yucatán, Mexico: J. Geophys. Res. Biogeosci., 122, 1156-1174, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2017JG003761

Year Published: 2017

Evaluating the impact of irrigation on surface water – groundwater interaction and stream temperature in an agricultural watershed

Changes in groundwater discharge to streams caused by irrigation practices can influence stream temperature. Observations along two currently flood-irrigated reaches in the 640-square-kilometer upper Smith River watershed, an important agricultural and recreational fishing area in west-central Montana, showed a downstream temperature decrease...

Essaid, Hedeff I.; Caldwell, Rodney R.
Attribution: Water
Essaid, H. I., and Caldwell, R. R., 2017, Evaluating the impact of irrigated agriculture on surface water – groundwater interaction and stream temperature in an agricultural watershed: Science of the Total Environment, v. 599-600, pp. 581-596.

Year Published: 2017

U.S. Geological Survey Karst Interest Group Proceedings, San Antonio, Texas, May 16–18, 2017

Introduction and AcknowledgmentsKarst aquifer systems are present throughout parts of the United States and some of its territories, and have developed in carbonate rocks (primarily limestone and dolomite) and evaporites (gypsum, anhydrite, and halite) that span an interval of time encompassing more than 550 million years. The depositional...

Kuniansky, Eve L.; Spangler, Lawrence E.
Attribution: Water
Kuniansky, E.L., and Spangler, L.E., eds., 2017, U.S. Geological Survey Karst Interest Group Proceedings, San Antonio, Texas, May 16–18, 2017: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5023, 245 p., http://doi.org/10.3133/sir20175023.

Year Published: 2017

Stable isotope analyses of oxygen (18O:17O:16O) and chlorine (37Cl:35Cl) in perchlorate: reference materials, calibrations, methods, and interferences

RationalePerchlorate (ClO4−) is a common trace constituent of water, soils, and plants; it has both natural and synthetic sources and is subject to biodegradation. The stable isotope ratios of Cl and O provide three independent quantities for ClO4− source attribution and natural attenuation studies: δ37Cl, δ18O, and δ17O (or Δ17O or 17Δ) values....

Böhlke, John Karl; Mroczkowski, Stanley J.; Sturchio, Neil C.; Heraty, Linnea J.; Richman, Kent W.; Sullivan, Donald B.; Griffith, Kris N.; Gu, Baohua; Hatzinger, Paul B.
Attribution: Water
Böhlke, J.K., Mroczkowski, S.J., Sturchio, N.C., Heraty, L.J., Richman, K.W., Sullivan, D.B., Griffith, K.N., Gu, B., and Hatzinger, P.B., 2017, Stable isotope analyses of oxygen (18O:17O:16O) and chlorine (37Cl:35Cl) in perchlorate: Reference materials, calibrations, methods, and interferences. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, v. 31, p. 85-110, doi: 10.1002/rcm.7751

Year Published: 2017

A practical method for the determination of total selenium in environmental samples using isotope dilution-hydride generation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry

A safe, practical, and accurate method for the determination of selenium (Se) in range of environmental samples was developed. Small sample masses, 5–20 mg, were amended with 82Se enriched isotope for the isotope dilution (ID), preceding a multi-step wet digestion with nitric acid (HNO3) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Samples were incubated in an...

Kleckner, Amy E.; Kakouros, Evangelos; Stewart, A. Robin
Attribution: Water
Kleckner, A. E., E. Kakouros, and A. R. Stewart. 2017. A practical method for the determination of total selenium in environmental samples using Isotope Dilution-Hydride Generation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry. Limnol. Oceanogr. Methods 15: 363-371. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/lom3.10164

Year Published: 2017

Density-driven free-convection model for isotopically fractionated geogenic nitrate in sabkha brine

Subsurface brines with high nitrate (NO3−) concentration are common in desert environments as atmospheric nitrogen is concentrated by the evaporation of precipitation and little nitrogen uptake. However, in addition to having an elevated mean concentration of ∼525 mg/L (as N), NO3− in the coastal sabkhas of Abu Dhabi is enriched in 15N (mean δ15N...

Wood, Warren W.; Böhlke, John Karl
Attribution: Water
Wood, W.W., and Böhlke, J.K., 2017, Density-driven free-convection model for isotopically fractionated geogenic nitrate in sabkha brine. Groundwater, v. 55(2), p. 199-207, doi: 10.1111/gwat.12463

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: 808
Image shows a USGS scientist in a PFD servicing a streamgage
August 31, 2017
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.
Image shows USGS scientists planning their water quality work on a whiteboard
August 31, 2017
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
A USGS scientist wearing a PFD measures flooding on the Guadalupe River
August 30, 2017
USGS scientist Alec MacDonald takes flood measurements on the Guadalupe River in Victoria, Texas.
Image shows a USGS scientist in a PFD servicing a streamgage
August 29, 2017
USGS scientist Tom Pistillo services the streamgage at Addicks Reservoir to ensure that accurate reservoir water-level data are being measured, which are critical for helping the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Harris County Flood Control District make informed reservoir operation decisions.
Image shows flooding at a streamgage site on Addicks Reservoir
August 29, 2017
USGS field crew measure reservoir water-level data at Addicks Reservoir, which are critical for helping the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers make informed reservoir operation decisions.
Image shows a USGS scientist in a PFD servicing a streamgage
August 29, 2017
USGS scientist Tom Pistillo wades through the waters of Barker Reservoir to ensure accurate reservoir water-level data are being measured, which are critical for helping the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Harris County Flood Control District make informed reservoir operation decisions.
Image shows flooding around a streamgage at Addicks Reservoir
August 29, 2017
USGS field crew measure reservoir water-level data at Addicks Reservoir, which are critical for helping the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers make informed reservoir operation decisions.
Image shows USGS scientists planning Hurricane Harvey response efforts
August 28, 2017
Planning meeting at the USGS Gulf Coast Office.
Image shows a police car in a flooded roadway in Texas
August 27, 2017
USGS field crews made multiple record high flood measurements on Aug. 27, including downstream of Addicks and Barker dam. Flood measurements near Addicks and Barker dam are critical for making public safety decisions, as 1.2 million people live downstream. USGS hydrologic technicians Eric Boeding and Robert Ellis measured the height and speed of floodwaters at the USGS streamgage site at Buffalo...
USGS scientist Matthew Barnes makes the highest streamflow measurement ever recorded at Eagle Ferry Rd near Anahuac, Texas.
August 26, 2017
USGS scientist Matthew Barnes makes the highest streamflow measurement ever recorded at Eagle Ferry Rd near Anahuac, Texas. Find more information from this site information here: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=08042558
Scientist taking a photo.
August 26, 2017
USGS scientist Mackenzie Mullins takes flood measurements at Berry Bayou in Houston, Texas.
USGS scientist Jeff East is monitoring streamflow and flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
August 26, 2017
In addition to staff that conduct field measurements of flooding conditions, others monitor information indoors. Here, USGS scientist Jeff East is monitoring streamflow and flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
Filter Total Items: 344
Image: Harmful Algal Blooms
March 31, 2017

Two decades of harmful algal bloom, nutrient and sediment research by the U.S. Geological Survey is helping to support Wichita’s long-term vision of a sustainable water supply into the future. Early warning indicators of harmful algal blooms have been developed for Cheney Reservoir, Kansas, according to a new USGS publication done in cooperation with the City of Wichita, Kansas.

Image: Redwater River, South Dakota
March 27, 2017

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. 

Santa Cruz River
March 27, 2017

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

Lake Mead
March 15, 2017

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.

Chinook Salmon
March 13, 2017

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.

Image: Oklahoma Groundwater Efforts
March 9, 2017

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!

mount hood
March 8, 2017

Our lunchtime "brownbag" seminars are held Tuesdays from 12pm to 1 pm PT. The science lectures are held at the USGS Oregon Water Science Center at 2130 SW 5th Avenue in Portland, OR. The presentations are informal and are open to the public. Please, bring your lunch.

USGS: Science for a changing world
March 8, 2017

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.

Pie Diagram for Sulfur Showing Standard and Conventional Atomic Weight
March 7, 2017

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

Stream in the Midwest Corn Belt Region
March 6, 2017

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.

Farms, forests and rolling hills in Lycoming County, PA
March 6, 2017

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.

River with blue reflection, in late summer, leaves just starting to turn from green to gold.
March 2, 2017

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.