Mission Areas

Water

Mission Areas L2 Landing Page Tabs

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.

Read Science Plan
Filter Total Items: 145
USGS technician monitoring a low flow in a stream while standing on a pebble island in stream in summer.
Date Published: September 24, 2016

Data on low-flow characteristics are used by water-resources managers for a variety of purposes, including water-supply planning, making decisions about wastewater-discharge and water withdrawal permits, and evaluating in-stream flow requirements. The Michigan low-flow network currently consists of seven sites where streamflow is typically measured only during low-flow periods. In addition to...

USGS Water-Quality equipment with cover opened at edge of river near a footbridge.
Date Published: September 24, 2016

The USGS operates a network of real-time water-quality monitoring stations that measure up to five physical parameters. The parameters are temperature, specific conductance, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. One to four of those parameters are measured at 26 sites, while all five parameters are measured at 13 sites. These data are used for decision making about hydroelectric power...

Crest-Stage Streamgage equipment set up at edge of a stream.
Date Published: September 24, 2016

Historically, small streams with drainage areas less than 100 square miles have not been adequately represented in regional peak- (high) flow analysis. In Michigan, USGS operates 24 traditional crest-stage gages, where stage and streamflow is only measured during high flows, and 6 continuous-record crest-stage gages, where cooperators can continually monitor stage and USGS maintains a high-...

Equipment is fixed-location acoustic Doppler velocity meters at Connecting Channels
Date Published: September 24, 2016

In response to decreasing water levels in the Great Lakes, especially Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, the International Upper Great Lakes Study (IUGLS) asked USGS to continuously measure flows in the connecting channels of St. Marys, St. Clair, and Detroit Rivers, and Water Survey Canada (WSC) to measure flows of Niagara River. To accommodate the effects of variable backwater and the...

Collage of three printouts of DNA sequencing of Pathogens.
Date Published: September 24, 2016

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Michigan Bacteriological Research Laboratory (MI-BaRL) studies the source, occurrence, and distribution of the bacterial pathogens Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC), Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter, Enterococcus, and Staphylococcus and the relation of occurrence of pathogens with fecal indicator bacteria, land-use, season, hydrology, geology, weather...

Color Illustration of Avian Botulism transport through species
Date Published: September 24, 2016

Botulism outbreaks occur within the Great Lakes and often result in significant bird die offs. It is believed that Clostridium botulinum is the reason for these die offs and the trophic pathways that this organism travels are of interest to understanding its place within the food web. The GLRI Avian Botulism Project is investigating six different matrices: sediment, Cladophora, invertebrates,...

Collage of various photos of processing in a Microbiology Laboratory showing equipment
Date Published: September 24, 2016

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Michigan Bacteriological Research Laboratory (MI-BaRL) is a newly renovated laboratory space operated by the USGS Michigan Water Science Center in Lansing, MI. The laboratory is staffed by two Ph.D. level microbiologists and five M.S. level microbiologists with a combined 70 years of experience in microbiology and water resources research. The USGS MI-BaRL...

Water Quality Monitoring site with Isco Sampler and Virus Sampler on the Clinton River, for GLRI sampling effort.
Date Published: September 24, 2016

To better understand the quality of water flowing into the Great Lakes, the USGS is conducting water-quality analyses for nutrients, sediment, and toxic substances and estimating the amount (load) of these substances for tributaries to the Great Lakes. Information on the occurrence and distribution of contaminants is needed to provide baseline information, measure progress towards restoration...

Acoustics boat with ADCP in river with tree branch in foreground, across river is USGS Hydro Tech holding line to boat.
Date Published: September 24, 2016

Michigan Water Science Center used acoustic meters for about 90 percent of the streamflow measurements made in Fiscal Year 2012. Wading measurements are done using a modified top setting wading rod equipped with an acoustic Doppler velocimeter (ADV). Acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCP) are used when measurement depths are too deep to wade. ADCP measurements can either be made with a...

Roadmap of Michigan with Groundwater stations marked with triangles
Date Published: September 24, 2016

The USGS Michigan Water Science Center cooperates with local and state agencies to collect and maintain groundwater data across Michigan. The USGS and local partners actively monitor 90 wells. Of these 90 wells, 22 are continuously monitored with 3 of those continuously...

Parents and children enjoying the beach in Macomb County, Michigan with seagulls.
Date Published: September 24, 2016

Important questions about beach closures and management remain unanswered in the Great Lakes where over 500 beaches are routinely used along the nearly 11,000 miles of coastline. The economies of coastal areas are dependent on public confidence in the quality of water at the shoreline, and beach managers need reliable science-based information to make beach closure and beach management...

Boats on Kalamazoo River of various agencies in response to a oil spill.
Date Published: September 24, 2016

Enbridge Energy Partners LLP (Enbridge) reported a 30-inch pipeline ruptured on Monday, July 26, 2010, near Marshall, Michigan. The release, estimated at 819,000 gallons, entered Talmadge Creek and flowed into the Kalamazoo River, a Lake Michigan tributary. Heavy rains caused the river to overtop existing dams and carried oil 30 miles downstream on the Kalamazoo River. As the federal agency in...

Filter Total Items: 1,522
Year Published: 2017

Flood effects provide evidence of an alternate stable state from dam management on the Upper Missouri River

We examine how historic flooding in 2011 affected the geomorphic adjustments created by dam regulation along the approximately 120 km free flowing reach of the Upper Missouri River bounded upstream by the Garrison Dam (1953) and downstream by Lake Oahe Reservoir (1959) near the City of Bismarck, ND, USA. The largest flood since dam regulation...

Skalak, Katherine; Benthem, Adam J.; Hupp, Cliff R.; Schenk, Edward R.; Galloway, Joel M.; Nustad, Rochelle A.
Attribution: Water
Skalak, K., Benthem, A., Hupp, C., Schenk, E., Galloway, J., and Nustad, R. (2016) Flood Effects Provide Evidence of an Alternate Stable State from Dam Management on the Upper Missouri River. River Res. Applic., doi: 10.1002/rra.3084.

Year Published: 2017

Assessing the dietary bioavailability of metals associated with natural particles: Extending the use of the reverse labeling approach to zinc

We extend the use of a novel tracing technique to quantify the bioavailability of zinc (Zn) associated with natural particles using snails enriched with a less common Zn stable isotope. Lymnaea stagnalis is a model species that has relatively fast Zn uptake rates from the dissolved phase, enabling their rapid enrichment in 67Zn during the initial...

Croteau, Marie-Noele; Cain, Daniel J.; Fuller, Christopher C.
Attribution: Water
Croteau, M.N., Cain, D.J. and Fuller, C.C., 2017. Assessing the Dietary Bioavailability of Metals Associated with Natural Particles: Extending the Use of the Reverse Labeling Approach to Zinc. Environmental Science & Technology. 51: 2803-2810, http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.6b06253

Year Published: 2017

Influence of atmospheric rivers on vegetation productivity and fire patterns in the southwestern U.S.

In the southwestern U.S., the meteorological phenomenon known as atmospheric rivers (ARs) has gained increasing attention due to its strong connections to floods, snowpacks, and water supplies in the West Coast states. Relatively less is known about the ecological implications of ARs, particularly in the interior Southwest, where AR storms are...

Albano, Christine M.; Dettinger, Michael; Soulard, Christopher E.
Attribution: Water
Albano, C.M., Dettinger, M.D. and Soulard, C.E., 2017. Influence of atmospheric rivers on vegetation productivity and fire patterns in the southwestern US. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 122, 308-323, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2016JG003608.

Year Published: 2017

Ascii grids of predicted pH in depth zones used by domestic and public drinking water supply depths, Central Valley, California

The ascii grids associated with this data release are predicted distributions of continuous pH at the drinking water depth zones in the groundwater of Central Valley, California. The two prediction grids produced in this work represent predicted pH at the domestic supply and public supply drinking water depths, respectively and are bound by the...

Zamora, Celia; Nolan, Bernard T.; Gronberg, JoAnn M.
Attribution: Water
Celia Z. Rosecrans, 2017, Ascii grids of predicted pH in depth zones used by domestic and public drinking water supply depths, Central Valley, California: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F7FX77K4

Year Published: 2017

Predicted pH at the domestic and public supply drinking water depths, Central Valley, California

This scientific investigations map is a product of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) project modeling and mapping team. The prediction grids depicted in this map are of continuous pH and are intended to provide an understanding of groundwater-quality conditions at the domestic and public supply drinking...

Rosecrans, Celia Z.; Nolan, Bernard T.; Gronberg, Jo Ann M.
Attribution: Water
Rosecrans, C.Z., Nolan, B.T., Gronberg, J.M., 2017, Predicted pH at the domestic and public supply drinking water depths, Central Valley, California: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3377, 1 sheet, scale 1:2,400,000, https://doi.org/10.3133/sim3377.

Year Published: 2017

Prediction and visualization of redox conditions in the groundwater of Central Valley, California

Regional-scale, three-dimensional continuous probability models, were constructed for aspects of redox conditions in the groundwater system of the Central Valley, California. These models yield grids depicting the probability that groundwater in a particular location will have dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations less than selected threshold...

Rosecrans, Celia Z.; Nolan, Bernard T.; Gronberg, JoAnn M.
Attribution: Water
Rosecrans, C.Z., Nolan, B.T., Gronberg J.M., 2017. Prediction and Visualization of Redox Conditions in the Groundwater of Central Valley, California. Journal of Hydrology, v. 546 (March), p. 341-356. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2017.01.014

Year Published: 2017

Volcanic ash supports a diverse bacterial community in a marine mesocosm

Shallow-water coral reef ecosystems, particularly those already impaired by anthropogenic pressures, may be highly sensitive to disturbances from natural catastrophic events, such as volcanic eruptions. Explosive volcanic eruptions expel large quantities of silicate ash particles into the atmosphere, which can disperse across millions of square...

Verena Witt; Paul M Ayris; Damby, David; Corrado Cimarelli; Ulrich Kueppers; Donald B Dingwell; Gert Wörheide
Attribution: Water
Witt V, Ayris PM, Damby DE, et al. Volcanic ash supports a diverse bacterial community in a marine mesocosm. Geobiology 2017;00:1-11. http://doi.org/10.1111/gbi.12231

Year Published: 2017

Divergent surface and total soil moisture projections under global warming

Land aridity has been projected to increase with global warming. Such projections are mostly based on off-line aridity and drought metrics applied to climate model outputs but also are supported by climate-model projections of decreased surface soil moisture. Here we comprehensively analyze soil moisture projections from the Coupled Model...

Berg, Alexis; Sheffield, Justin; Milly, Paul C.D.
Attribution: Water
Alexis Berg, Justin Sheffield, P. C. D. Milly, 2017, Divergent surface and total soil moisture projections under global warming. Geophys. Res. Lett., 44(1), 236-244.DOI: 10.1002/2016GL071921

Year Published: 2017

Defining snow drought and why it matters

On 12 February, water resource managers at the Oroville Dam issued an evacuation warning that forced some 180,000 Californians to relocate to higher ground. The story of how conditions got to this point involves several factors, but two clearly stand out: the need to prevent water shortages during a record drought, followed by one of the wettest...

Harpold, Adrian; Dettinger, Michael; Rajagopal, Seshadri
Attribution: Water
Harpold, A. A., M. Dettinger, and S. Rajagopal (2017), Defining snow drought and why it matters, Eos, 98, http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2017EO068775

Year Published: 2017

Shifts in microbial community structure and function in surface waters impacted by unconventional oil and gas wastewater revealed by metagenomics

Unconventional oil and gas (UOG) production produces large quantities of wastewater with complex geochemistry and largely uncharacterized impacts on surface waters. In this study, we assessed shifts in microbial community structure and function in sediments and waters upstream and downstream from a UOG wastewater disposal facility. To do this,...

Fahrenfeld, N.L.; Reyes, Hannah Delos; Eramo, Alessia; Akob, Denise M.; Mumford, Adam; Cozzarelli, Isabelle M.
Attribution: Water
Fahrenfeld, N.L., H. Delos Reyes, A. Eramo, D. M. Akob, A. Mumford, and I.M. Cozzarelli. 2017. Shifts in microbial community structure and function in surface waters impacted by unconventional oil and gas wastewaters revealed by metagenomics, Science of the Total Environment, 580: 1205–1213, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.12.079.

Year Published: 2017

Environmental signatures and effects of an oil and gas wastewater spill in the Williston Basin, North Dakota

Wastewaters from oil and gas development pose largely unknown risks to environmental resources. In January 2015, 11.4 M L (million liters) of wastewater (300 g/L TDS) from oil production in the Williston Basin was reported to have leaked from a pipeline, spilling into Blacktail Creek, North Dakota. Geochemical and biological samples...

Cozzarelli, Isabelle M.; Skalak, Katherine; Kent, D.B.; Engle, Mark A.; Benthem, Adam J.; Mumford, Adam; Haase, Karl B.; Farag, Aïda M.; Harper, David; Nagel, S. C.; Iwanowicz, Luke R.; Orem, William H.; Akob, Denise M.; Jaeschke, Jeanne B.; Galloway, Joel M.; Kohler, Matthias; Stoliker, Deborah L.; Jolly, Glenn D.
Attribution: Water

Year Published: 2017

Lithological influences on contemporary and long-term regolith weathering at the Luquillo Critical Zone Observatory

Lithologic differences give rise to the differential weatherability of the Earth’s surface and globally variable silicate weathering fluxes, which provide an important negative feedback on climate over geologic timescales. To isolate the influence of lithology on weathering rates and mechanisms, we compare two nearby catchments in the Luquillo...

Buss, Heather L.; Lara, Maria Chapela; Moore, Oliver; Kurtz, Andrew C.; Schulz, Marjorie S.; White, Arthur F.
Attribution: Water

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
Young Boy Fishing
June 24, 2017
A young boy fishing in a lake in Albemarle County, Virginia.
Johanna Blake demonstrates how to use a water quality sonde
June 21, 2017
USGS NMWSC Hydrologists Johanna Blake and Jeb Brown attended the 2nd Annual Conference on Environmental Conditions of the Animas and San Juan Watersheds with Emphasis on Gold King Mine and other Mine Waste Issues in Farmington, NM from June 20-21. Johanna and Jeb presented on the USGS long-term monitoring work of continuous monitoring sondes, water quality, and sediment measurement. On June 22nd...
Hydrologists doing field work near Farmington, NM
June 20, 2017
USGS NMWSC Hydrologists Johanna Blake and Jeb Brown attended the 2nd Annual Conference on Environmental Conditions of the Animas and San Juan Watersheds with Emphasis on Gold King Mine and other Mine Waste Issues in Farmington, NM from June 20-21. Johanna and Jeb presented on the USGS long-term monitoring work of continuous monitoring sondes, water quality, and sediment measurement. On June 22nd...
2017 (approx.)
The Arizona Water Science Center demonstrates new methods in Reach-Scale Monitoring to improve accuracy and measurability of high flow events. By installing pressure transducers and using LiDAR to measure topography data, hydrologists are able to simulate flows with two dimensional models which will help better calibrate stream gages. These advances have potential to aid in gathering important...
2017 (approx.)
Meet Bob. Bob is a beaver. Beavers and their dams are common sights along creeks in Oregon. Beaver activity can create diverse habitats and homes for many animals, including birds, fishes, and dragonflies. The USGS are studying beaver dams and ponds in Portland, Oregon, to understand how they affect the amount and quality of water in urban streams. Insights from the study will highlight the...
Rio Chama near La Puente, NM
May 23, 2017
This photo was taken during a routine site visit to measure streamflow on the Rio Chama in New Mexico.
Cooperators gather to learn about Otowi Streamgage in New Mexico
May 23, 2017
Many eyes watch the amount of water running past the important Otowi streamflow gage. On May 23rd, Tyson Hatch from the New Mexico Water Science Center (NMWSC) presented an overview of the streamgaging activities of the Otowi Gage to participants of the Rio Chama Basin and San Juan-Chama Project Tour. The Otowi gage measures streamflow in the Rio Grande River. The streamgage record at Otowi is a...
Cedar Rapids Geophysical Survey
May 5, 2017
A helicopter towing a large, cylindrical sensor will make low-level flights over parts of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as part of a groundwater survey in May 2017. The flights will collect and record underground geologic measurements to help the U.S. Geological Survey better determine groundwater resources in the Cedar River Aquifer. The helicopter, operated by CGG Canada Services under contract to the...
Cedar Rapids Geophysical Survey - Helicopter and Sensor 2
May 3, 2017
A helicopter towing a large, cylindrical sensor will make low-level flights over parts of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as part of a groundwater survey in May 2017. The flights will collect and record underground geologic measurements to help the U.S. Geological Survey better determine groundwater resources in the Cedar River Aquifer. The helicopter, operated by CGG Canada Services under contract to the...
Cedar Rapids Geophysical Survey - Helicopter and Sensor
May 3, 2017
A helicopter towing a large, cylindrical sensor will make low-level flights over parts of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as part of a groundwater survey in May 2017. The flights will collect and record underground geologic measurements to help the U.S. Geological Survey better determine groundwater resources in the Cedar River Aquifer. The helicopter, operated by CGG Canada Services under contract to the...
Cedar Rapids Geophysical Survey - Team with Sensor
May 1, 2017
A helicopter towing a large, cylindrical sensor will make low-level flights over parts of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as part of a groundwater survey in May 2017. The flights will collect and record underground geologic measurements to help the U.S. Geological Survey better determine groundwater resources in the Cedar River Aquifer. The helicopter, operated by CGG Canada Services under contract to the...
Filter Total Items: 344
Photo of Pigeon Canyon just before it merges with Snake Gulch in northern Arizona. 
January 24, 2017

Uranium levels in Pigeon Spring, just north of the Grand Canyon, are likely due to a natural source of uranium and not related to the nearby former Pigeon Mine, according to a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Photo of a young girl drinking water, which likely originated from groundwater sources. 
January 19, 2017

A regional assessment of untreated groundwater in the Basin and Range basin-fill aquifers, which include parts of Nevada, California, Arizona, Utah and adjacent states, is now available from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Photo of a young girl drinking water, which likely originated from groundwater sources. 
January 19, 2017

A regional assessment of untreated groundwater in the Coastal Lowlands aquifer system in the southeastern United States is now available from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Photo of a young girl drinking water, which likely originated from groundwater sources. 
January 19, 2017

A regional assessment of untreated groundwater in the Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain aquifer system in the eastern United States is now available from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Photo of a young girl drinking water, which likely originated from groundwater sources. 
January 19, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey is near the midpoint of a complex undertaking to survey the quality of the nation’s largest drinking-water resource. From 2012 – 2023, the USGS is assessing groundwater throughout the country through extensive sampling. The latest results from five regional aquifers have become available today.

Photo of a young girl drinking water, which likely originated from groundwater sources. 
January 19, 2017

A regional assessment of untreated groundwater in the Southeastern Coastal Plain aquifer system is now available from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Photo of a young girl drinking water, which likely originated from groundwater sources. 
January 19, 2017

A regional assessment of untreated groundwater in the combined Valley and Ridge and Piedmont and Blue Ridge aquifers in the eastern United States is now available from the U.S. Geological Survey.

USGS Extensometer Drilling
January 18, 2017

Deep drilling in eastern Virginia will evaluate past effects of groundwater pumping, land subsidence, and relative sea-level rise. Future injection of water is expected to add pressure, expand the aquifer, and raise the land surface.

Photo of USGS scientist Robert Baskin deploying a side scan sonar in the Salton Sea, California. 
January 18, 2017

U.S. Geological Survey scientist Dr. Robert Baskin is being awarded with a 2016 Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology. Gov. Gary R. Herbert will present awards to 11 individuals and one company at the 30th anniversary awards dinner tonight.

Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler
January 12, 2017

You are invited to join USGS scientists and field technician crews as they collect discharge measurements in rainfall-affected areas.

USGS logo
January 12, 2017

Helpful new information for anyone designing structures over or near water, managing water distribution, or interested in the flow of local streams.