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
USGS Hydrologist working in winter on frozen river collecting samples.
Date Published: September 21, 2016

As part of the USGS National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program the USGS MIWSC operates a stream gage and routinely collects water quality samples at the Clinton River at Sterling Heights, MI. station. Water is analyzed for sediment, nutrients, major ions, and a suite of 271 different pesticides. Information obtained...

Ripples on Lake Richie near Portage Trail at Isle Royale National Park with tree growing strangely over water.
Date Published: September 21, 2016

The U.S. Geological Survey, in partnership with the National Park Service began a project in 2012 exploring  levels of the algal toxins in surface drinking water and recreational waters in 3 National Park Service Parks: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Isle Royale National Park, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  Produced by cyanobacteria, algal toxins such as microcystin can cause...

The Water Cycle for Schools Poster
Date Published: September 20, 2016

► Visit the Water Cycle for Schools Web site

Summary of the water cycle

The water cycle describes how Earth's water is not only always changing forms, between liquid (rain), solid (ice), and gas (vapor), but also moving on, above, and in the Earth. This process is always happening everywhere.

Our...

Screenshot of the Michigan Lake Water Clarity Interactive Map Viewer
Date Published: September 15, 2016

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), use a technique modeled after Olmanson and others (2001) to predict water clarity and corresponding trophic state index (TSI) values based on the...

A cutthroat trout up close. James Roberts photo. USGS.
Date Published: August 29, 2016

Piscicides have been used in Rocky Mountain stream and lakes to restore native fish populations. In the last two decades concerns over piscicide effects to non-target organisms, primarily aquatic invertebrates, has increased. Although piscicides have been used for more than 70 years the impact to invertebrate assemblages has not been well studied and is largely unknown. Given the importance a...

Poudre River looking upstream.
Date Published: August 12, 2016

Water quality and aquatic life standards that are set by Federal and state regulatory agencies are used to evaluate the quality of our nation’s water and the health of aquatic ecosystems. These standards currently are based on hardness of the water and are determined for single metals, not for mixtures of metals that are typically found in natural systems. Metal mixtures can potentially be...

Date Published: April 28, 2016

The Water Availability and Use Science Program (WAUSP) fulfills the Water Resources Mission Area's objectives to provide comprehensive water availability and use science to the Nation

Image: USGS Scientist Researching  Bakken Formation Water Samples
Date Published: April 20, 2016

The USGS National Research Program (NRP), part of the USGS Water Mission Area, conducts research to develop and disseminate science-based information and tools needed for a fundamental understanding of the processes that affect the availability, movement, and quality of the Nation’s water resources. Our science supports a wide range of policies and activities.

Dog Lake, Yosemite National Park
Date Published: April 20, 2016

Science to observe, analyze, and understand the movement and condition of surface water.

Image: USGS Scientists Monitor Animas River
Date Published: April 20, 2016

Science to monitor and evaluate biological, chemical, and environmental factors affecting water quality.

National Groundwater Awareness Week
Date Published: April 20, 2016

Science to discover and describe the location, condition, and behavior of water in the ground.

Filter Total Items: 1,522
Year Published: 2017

Changes in the Chemistry of Groundwater Reacted with CO2: Comparison of Laboratory Results with the ZERT Field Pilot

As part of the ZERT program, sediments from two wells at the ZERT site, located in Bozeman, Montana, USA were reacted with a solution having the composition of local groundwater. A total of 50 water samples were collected from 7 containers placed for 15 days in a glove box with one atmosphere of CO2 to investigate detailed changes in the...

Kharaka, Yousif K.; Thordsen, James J.; Abedini, Atosa A.; Beers, Sarah; Thomas, Burt
Attribution: Water
Kharaka, Y. K., Thordsen, J. J., Abedini, A., Beers, S. Thomas, B., 2017, Changes in the chemistry of groundwater reacted with CO2: Comparison of laboratory results with the ZERT field pilot. Procedia Earth and Planetary Science, v. 17, p. 241 – 244. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.proeps.2016.12.043

Year Published: 2017

Using groundwater age distributions to understand changes in methyl tert-butyl ether (MtBE) concentrations in ambient groundwater, northeastern United States

Temporal changes in methyl tert-butyl ether (MtBE) concentrations in groundwater were evaluated in the northeastern United States, an area of the nation with widespread low-level detections of MtBE based on a national survey of wells selected to represent ambient conditions. MtBE use in the U.S. peaked in 1999 and was largely discontinued by 2007...

Lindsey, Bruce; Ayotte, Joseph; Jurgens, Bryant; DeSimone, Leslie
Attribution: Water
Lindsey, B.D., Ayotte, J.D., Jurgens, B.C., Desimone, L.A., 2017, Using Groundwater Age Distributions to Understand Changes in Methyl tert-butyl ether (MtBE) Concentrations, Northeastern United States, Science of the Total Environment, v 579, 1 February 2017, p. 579-587. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.11.058.

Year Published: 2017

Local geology controlled the feasibility of vitrifying Iron Age buildings

During European prehistory, hilltop enclosures made from polydisperse particle-and-block stone walling were exposed to temperatures sufficient to partially melt the constituent stonework, leading to the preservation of glassy walls called ‘vitrified forts’. During vitrification, the granular wall rocks partially melt, sinter viscously and densify...

Fabian B Wadsworth; Michael J Heap; Damby, David; Kai-Uwe Hess; Jens Najorka; Jérémie Vasseur; Dominik Fahrner; Donald B Dingwell
Attribution: Water
Wadsworth, F. B. et al. 2017. Local geology controlled the feasibility of vitrifying Ion Age buildings. Scientific Reports, 7:40028; doi: 10.1038/srep40028.

Year Published: 2017

The contribution of rice agriculture to methylmercury in surface waters: A review of data from the Sacramento Valley, California

Methylmercury (MeHg) is a bioaccumulative pollutant produced in and exported from flooded soils, including those used for rice (Oriza sativa L.) production. Using unfiltered aqueous MeHg data from MeHg monitoring programs in the Sacramento River watershed from 1996 to 2007, we assessed the MeHg contribution from rice systems to the Sacramento...

Tanner, K. Christy; Windham-Myers, Lisamarie; Fleck, Jacob; Tate, Kenneth W.; McCord, Stephen A.; Linquist, Bruce A.
Attribution: Water

Year Published: 2017

Acetylene fuels TCE reductive dechlorination by defined Dehalococcoides/Pelobacter consortia

Acetylene (C2H2) can be generated in contaminated groundwater sites as a consequence of chemical degradation of trichloroethene (TCE) by in situ minerals, and C2H2 is known to inhibit bacterial dechlorination. In this study, we show that while high C2H2 (1.3 mM) concentrations reversibly inhibit reductive dechlorination of TCE by Dehalococcoides...

Mao, Xinwei; Oremland, Ronald S.; Liu, Tong; Landers, Abigail A; Baesman, Shaun; Alvarez-Cohen, Lisa
Attribution: Water

Year Published: 2017

Long-term flow-through column experiments and their relevance to natural granitoid weathering rates

Four pairs of fresh and partly-weathered granitoids, obtained from well-characterized watersheds—Merced River, CA, USA; Panola, GA, USA; Loch Vale, CO, USA, and Rio Icacos, Puerto Rico—were reacted in columns under ambient laboratory conditions for 13.8 yrs, the longest running experimental weathering study to date. Low total column mass losses (...

White, Arthur F.; Schulz, Marjorie S.; Lawrence, Corey R.; Vivit, Davison V.; Stonestrom, David A.
Attribution: Water
White, A.F., Schulz, M.S., Lawrence, C.R., Vivit, D.V., Stonestrom, D.A., 2016, Long-Term Flow-Through Column Experiments and Their Relevance to Natural Granitoid Weathering Rates, Geochemica et Cosmochemica Acta, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2016.11.042

Year Published: 2017

Evaluation of diffuse and preferential flow pathways of infiltratedprecipitation and irrigation using oxygen and hydrogen isotopes

Subsurface-water flow pathways in three different land-use areas (non-irrigated grassland, poplar forest, and irrigated arable land) in the central North China Plain were investigated using oxygen (18O) and hydrogen (2H) isotopes in samples of precipitation, soils, and groundwater. Soil water in the top 10 cm was significantly affected by...

Ma, Bin; Liang, Xing; Liu, Shaohua; Jin, Menggui; Nimmo, John R.; Li, Jingxin
Attribution: Water
Ma, Bin; Liang, Xing; Liu, Shaohua; Jin, Menggui; Nimmo, John R.; Li, Jing Evaluation of diffuse and preferential flow pathways of infiltrated precipitation and irrigation using oxygen and hydrogen isotopes Hydrogeology Journal Issue 3/2017

Year Published: 2017

Hydrochemical determination of source water contributions to Lake Lungo and Lake Ripasottile (central Italy)

Lake Lungo and Lake Ripasottile are two shallow (4-5 m) lakes located in the Rieti Basin, central Italy, that have been described previously as surface outcroppings of the groundwater table. In this work, the two lakes as well as springs and rivers that represent their potential source waters are characterized physio-chemically and isotopically,...

Archer, Claire; Noble, Paula; Kreamer, David; Piscopo, Vincenzo; Petitta, Marco; Rosen, Michael R.; Poulson, Simon R.; Piovesan, Gianluca; Mensing, Scott
Attribution: Water
Archer, C., Noble, P., Kreamer, D., Piscopo, V., Petitta, M., Rosen, M.R., Poulson, S., Piovesan, G., and Mensing, S., 2016, Hydrochemical determination of source water contributions to Lake Lungo and Lake Ripasottile (central Italy). Journal of Limnology. 10.4081/jlimnol.2016.1576

Year Published: 2017

Challenges with secondary use of multi-source water-quality data in the United States

Combining water-quality data from multiple sources can help counterbalance diminishing resources for stream monitoring in the United States and lead to important regional and national insights that would not otherwise be possible. Individual monitoring organizations understand their own data very well, but issues can arise when their data are...

Sprague, Lori A.; Oelsner, Gretchen P.; Argue, Denise M.
Sprague, L.A., Oelsner, G.P., and Argue, D.M., 2017, Challenges with secondary use of multi-source water-quality data in the United States. Water Research: vol. 110, p 252-261. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2016.12.024

Year Published: 2017

Arsenite as an electron donor for anoxygenic photosynthesis: Description of three strains of Ectothiorhodospria from Mono Lake, California, and Big Soda Lake, Nevada

Three novel strains of photosynthetic bacteria from the family Ectothiorhodospiraceae were isolated from soda lakes of the Great Basin Desert, USA by employing arsenite (As(III)) as the sole electron donor in the enrichment/isolation process. Strain PHS-1 was previously isolated from a hot spring in Mono Lake, while strain MLW-1 was obtained from...

McCann, Shelley; Boren, Alison; Hernandez-Maldonado, Jaime; Stoneburner, Brendon; Saltikov, Chad W; Stolz, John F.; Oremland, Ronald S.
Attribution: Water

Year Published: 2017

The chemistry and isotopic composition of waters in the low-enthalpy geothermal system of Cimino-Vico Volcanic District, Italy

Geothermal energy exploration is based in part on interpretation of the chemistry, temperature, and discharge rate of thermal springs. Here we present the major element chemistry and the δD, δ18O, 87Sr/86Sr and δ11B isotopic ratio of groundwater from the low-enthalpy geothermal system near the city of Viterbo in the Cimino-Vico volcanic district...

Battistel, Maria; Hurwitz, Shaul; Evans, William; Barbieri, Maurizio
Attribution: Water

Year Published: 2017

Estuary-ocean connectivity: Fast physics, slow biology

Estuaries are connected to both land and ocean so their physical, chemical, and biological dynamics are influenced by climate patterns over watersheds and ocean basins. We explored climate-driven oceanic variability as a source of estuarine variability by comparing monthly time series of temperature and chlorophyll-a inside San Francisco Bay with...

Raimonet, Mélanie; Cloern, James E.
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
Microplastics sampling on Lake Mead
March 21, 2017
Sampling for microplastics on Lake Mead, March 21, 2017
snow and ice on Mohawk River at Lock 8
March 20, 2017
Mohawk River at Lock 8 near Schenectady, New York (01354330)
March 11, 2017
Caribbean-Florida Water Science Center, Davie Office, supported Broward County Watter Matters Day on March 11, 2017 as part of an outreach event to the public. http://www.broward.org/WaterMatters/Pages/ProgramsWMD.aspx
bridge over Mohawk River at Lock 8 dam
March 10, 2017
Mohawk River at Lock 8 near Schenectady (01354330) Live Ice Jam Web Camera
USGS hydrologic technician collecting data with ADCP from a cableway
March 9, 2017
USGS hydrologic technician Michael Allen collects streamflow data from the Boise River at streamgage station 13206000 using an acoustic Doppler current profiler.
February 24, 2017
On February 24, 2017, Nick Stasulis (Data Section Chief of the USGS New England Water Science Center, Maine Office) met with police and fire officials from the City of Bangor and surrounding communities to ride along with the US Coast Guard on the ice breaker Bridle. Along with Bridle, ice breaker Tackle worked to clear ice on the Penobscot River in preparation for spring runoff. Clearing ice on...
flooding along the Carson River near Carson City, NV
February 11, 2017
Flood water on Carson River near Nevada Water Science Center Office.
Large ruler-like instrument under a bridge standing up in the river water
February 11, 2017
USGS staff gage (ruler) measuring the height of the water, on the Carson River, near Brunswick Canyon, Nevada.
person sitting on the shore, watch a floating instrument tied to a cableway over a river
February 8, 2017
Streamgaging on Martin Creek, near Paradise Valley, Nevada.
2 men working with a drill rig
January 27, 2017
Drill rig on Long Island, NY
Hydro techs snowshoeing in the Sandia Mountains as part of a snowpack hydrology study.
January 24, 2017
Hydrologist Ryan McCutcheon and student Aurelia Mitchell recently trekked up into the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, New Mexico to collect snow data as part of an ongoing hydrologic study in the East Mountains, conducted in cooperation with the Bernalillo County Public Works Division. They measured the depth and density of the snow in several locations to determine the snow/water equivalent...
Filter Total Items: 344
This picture was taken June 23, 2010 along the Louisiana shoreline in Barataria Bay and shows oil spilled from Deepwater Horizon
November 17, 2016

A new USGS-NASA study found widespread shoreline loss along heavily oiled areas of Louisiana's coast after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and compared the erosion from the spill with coastal changes Hurricane Isaac caused in 2012.

A group of Brook Trout swim through a stream.
November 16, 2016

A new USGS study shows non-native Brown Trout can place a burden on native Brook Trout under the increased water temperatures climate change can cause.

USGS: Science for a changing world
October 27, 2016

In partnership with the Federal Advisory Committee on Water Information

Cyanobacterial bloom in Lake Okeechobee, FL (July 2016)
October 24, 2016

Building knowledge to protect ecological and human health

Hydrologic technician Samantha Kephart.points out a high water mark
October 21, 2016

The heavy rains and storm surge Hurricane Matthew produced caused severe flooding in many parts of the south east, resulting in almost 40 peak flood records. As the flood waters continue to recede from some affected areas, the U. S. Geological Survey will continue its efforts to record this historic flooding. Click here to learn more about the work the USGS has completed for Hurricane Matthew.

Photo of scientists testing where methane goes once released into streams
October 17, 2016

First application shows majority of methane in study stream emitted to the atmosphere. 

USGS logo
October 17, 2016

A new study offers the most sophisticated analyses to date on how Los Angeles-area groundwater supplies are replenished. The analyses provide water managers with a clearer understanding of the sources and amount of available groundwater in the region – information that is important for planning and management of the vital resource.

Baltimore Harbor Water Wheel (aka “Mr. Trash Wheel”)
October 14, 2016

Online sites will provide the first real-time, user-friendly Inner Harbor water information

Photo of Flooding on Mississippi River in December 2015
October 13, 2016

An assessment of the flooding that occurred in the Meramec River Basin from December 2015–January 2016 is available in a new report from the U.S. Geological Survey. The report includes peak stages and streamflows, historical comparisons and flood-frequency statistics from the record flood.

This picture shows Spring Lake, NC, hit by flooding twice in two weeks.
October 12, 2016

Reporters: Want more information? Please contact Jeanne Robbins, jrobbins@usgs.gov, 919-571-4017