Mission Areas


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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: 138
U.S. Geological Survey and Bureau of Reclamation technicians using radio telemetry equipment to document bull trout migration b
August 4, 2017

STATUS: Completed

In 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) listed the bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) as a threatened species. In 2010, the FWS designated critical habitat for the bull trout, including the upper Boise River basin. The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) operates three reservoirs on the upper Boise River for irrigation and flood control. Reclamation and FWS...

Image: Owyhee Canyonlands Streamgage Installation
August 4, 2017

STATUS: Active

Several river segments in the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness have been designated as “Wild and Scenic” under the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009. This designation is intended to protect the “outstanding remarkable values” (ORVs) in this area—specifically fish and wildlife habitat, scenic and geological features, and recreational...

Microplastics sampling on Lake Mead
August 4, 2017

STATUS: Active

There is mounting evidence that microplastics present a significant threat to aquatic organisms. Microplastics – defined as plastic particles less than 5 mm in diameter – come from many different sources, including synthetic textiles, industrial waste products, personal care products, and the breakdown of litter, car tires, and other objects. This study...

Mercury research in Hells Canyon reservoirs, Idaho and Oregon
August 4, 2017

STATUS: Active

The Hells Canyon Complex is a hydroelectric project consisting of three dams located on the Snake River along the Oregon and Idaho border. Elevated concentrations of mercury and methylmercury in the water column, bottom sediments, and biota in this reach have resulted in two of the reservoirs, Brownlee and Hells Canyon, being listed as impaired for mercury by the state of...

Image: Water-Quality Study in Historical Idaho Mining District
August 4, 2017

STATUS: Active

Mining of stibnite (antimony sulfide), tungsten, gold, silver, and mercury near the town of Stibnite in central Idaho has left a legacy of trace element contamination in the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River (EFSFSR) and its tributaries. Concentrations of arsenic, antimony, and mercury frequently exceed human health criteria and may impact threatened or...

Image of a new benchmark.
June 24, 2017

The southern Chesapeake Bay region is experiencing land subsidence along with rising sea levels, both of which can contribute to coastal flooding. The rates at which these two processes are occurring are not exactly known. Mapping of land elevation change requires ground-truth survey data at multiple locations that are accurate and precise. With the exception of a few CORS sites that have...

Cypress Swamp Egret - Louisiana
June 24, 2017

Links to Sources of Water Information

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) investigates the occurrence, quantity, quality, distribution, and movement of surface and underground waters and disseminates the data to the public, State and local governments, public and private utilities, and other Federal agencies involved with managing water resources

The map to the left allows you to...

Shreveport Area—Caddo and Bossier Parishes
June 23, 2017

Flooding is a concern for everyone in Louisiana. Floods demand immediate and decisive action by governmental entities, businesses, and individual citizens, all of whom have to make critical decisions that directly impact the extent, duration, and mitigation of losses resulting from flooding. How high will the water get? How long will the flood last? What areas will be affected? What roads will...

Hardened Gages—Built to Survive
June 23, 2017

1 June 2010

Hurricane season starts today, and the USGS Lower Mississippi Gulf Water Science Center is committed to collecting and providing the most up-to-date information before, during, and after the storms that are sure to come our way. When a hurricane or tropical storm is approaching, accurate and timely storm data are crucial in making good decisions regarding personal safety and...

Hurricane Irene, satellite view, NASA
June 23, 2017

USGS Information and Links

Hurricane Hazards—A National Threat (fact sheet)

USGS Natural Hazards - Hurricanes

Hurricane Forecast Information

National Hurricane Center—(NWS)

Current Tropical Forecast Information

GOES-8 Atlantic Infrared Imagery

GOES-8 Atlantic Visible Imagery

Earth Scan Laboratory—(LSU)


Downloadable spatial data files for exploration and analysis.

Filter Total Items: 25
September 19, 1996

The goals of the NAWQA program are being achieved through ongoing or planned investigations of 59 of the Nation's most important river and aquifer systems, which are referred to as study units. These study units were selected to represent the diverse geography, water resources, and land and water uses of the Nation. The Mobile River Basin is one such study unit, designed to supplement water.

Filter Total Items: 1,477
Year Published: 2017

Groundwater resources of the Devils Postpile National Monument—Current conditions and future vulnerabilities

This study presents an extensive database on groundwater conditions in and around Devils Postpile National Monument. The database contains chemical analyses of springs and the monument water-supply well, including major-ion chemistry, trace element chemistry, and the first information on a list of organic compounds known as emerging contaminants....

Evans, William C.; Bergfeld, Deborah
Attribution: Water
Evans, W.C., and Bergfeld, D., 2017, Groundwater resources of the Devils Postpile National Monument—Current conditions and future vulnerabilities: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5048, 31 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20175048.

Year Published: 2017

Archaeal diversity and CO2 fixers in carbonate-/siliciclastic-rock groundwater ecosystems

Groundwater environments provide habitats for diverse microbial communities, and although Archaea usually represent a minor fraction of communities, they are involved in key biogeochemical cycles. We analysed the archaeal diversity within a mixed carbonate-rock/siliciclastic-rock aquifer system, vertically from surface soils to subsurface...

Lazar, Cassandre Sara; Stoll, Wenke; Lehmann, Robert; Herrmann, Martina; Schwab, Valérie F.; Akob, Denise M.; Nawaz, Ali; Wubet, Tesfaye; Buscot, François; Totsche, Kai-Uwe; Küsel, Kirsten
Attribution: Water
Lazar, C. S.; Stoll, W.; Lehmann, R.; Herrmann, M.; Schwab, V. F.; Akob, D. M.; Nawaz, A.; Wubet, T.; Buscot, F.; Totsche, K.-U.; Küsel, K., Archaeal diversity and CO2 fixers in carbonate-/siliciclastic-rock groundwater ecosystems. Archaea 2017, 2017, 1-13, https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/2136287

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

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

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: 801
man in yellow shirt and camo coveralls standing in thigh-high water with instrument.
2017 (approx.)
USGS technician measuring streamflow in the Sisquoc River near Garey, California, upstream of the Santa Maria Mesa Road Bridge.
Two technicians in a cablecar over a river, with an instrument hanging below them
2017 (approx.)
USGS technicians preparing for a streamflow measurement by lowering an acoustic Doppler current profiler from a cable way on the American River near Fair Oaks, California.
Schéma obehu vody - The Water Cycle, Slovak
October 12, 2017
Kolobeh Vody - The Water Cycle, Slovak Mohli by ste si myslieť, že každá kvapka dažďa, ktorá spadne z oblohy alebo každý pohár vody, ktorý vypijete, je z čisto novej vody. V skutočnosti je to ale stále tá istá voda, ktorá tu je a bola vždy a ktorá je trvalou súčasťou kolobehu vody! You may think that every drop of rain that falls from the sky, or each glass of water that you drink, is brand new,...
Vattnets Kretslopp - The Water Cycle, Swedish
October 12, 2017
Vattnets Kretslopp - The Water Cycle, Swedish Vad är vattencykeln? Jag svarar utan att tveka att - det är jag! Vattencykeln beskriver förekomsten och rörelsen av vatten inuti, utanpå och utanför jordytan. Jordens vatten rör sig hela tiden, och byter ständigt skepnad, från flytande form till ånga till is och tillbaka igen. Vattencykeln har fungerat på detta vis i flera miljarder år och allt liv på...
A USGS hydrologic technician installs a Rapid-Deployment Gauge on a bridge in Norfolk, Virginia.
2017 (approx.)
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 forecasting by augmenting...
2017 (approx.)
Before a hurricane, USGS Scientists undertake a data collection effort of a grand scale. They install a temporary mobile network of sensors along the coasts to collect additional data on the intensity of storm surge, one of the most dangerous elements of a hurricane. This effort provides critical information that allows various USGS partners and emergency responders to make better informed...
USGS scientists collect a sediment sample from Brownlee Reservoir
September 28, 2017
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
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 the water comes up then...
Image shows a USGS scientist in a PFD taking a high-water measurement
September 11, 2017
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
USGS scientist Steve Hannes marks high water marks along the Colorado River after flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Wharton County, Texas.
Filter Total Items: 344
Low streamflow on the Arkansas River at Syracuse, Kansas.
June 26, 2017

Human activity, such as groundwater pumping, land management, reservoir operations and urbanization, has a measurable effect on streamflows in Kansas locally, regionally and statewide, according to a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey, done in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

A submarine-ground-water-discharge site at Florida State University's Marine Lab at just after sunset
June 20, 2017

Larger-than-average low and no oxygen area may affect the region’s shrimp fisheries

High Plains aquifer water-level changes, predevelopment to 2015
June 16, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey has released a new report detailing changes of groundwater levels in the High Plains aquifer. The report presents water-level change data in the aquifer for two separate periods: from 1950 – the time prior to significant groundwater irrigation development – to 2015, and from 2013 to 2015.

Image of a red dye study conducted in the Brandon Road Lock on the Des Plaines River near Joliet, Illinois, in 2015.
June 6, 2017

U.S. Geological Survey scientists will inject a harmless, bright red fluorescent dye into the auxiliary lock at Locks and Dam 14 on the Mississippi River near Pleasant Valley, Iowa, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, weather permitting. If needed, a backup date is scheduled for June 27, 2017.  

Image: Vegetation Drought
June 5, 2017

The U. S. Geological Survey is poised to bring a dynamic array of science and tools to help decision-makers manage and offset effects of increased drought across the United States, according to a drought plan report released today.

Hurricane Irene, satellite view, NASA
June 1, 2017

Scientists work in the field before, during and after landfall to improve forecasting and recovery.



Two men collecting groundwater samples at a public well in the middle of a grassy field in Texas
May 31, 2017

Decades or longer may be needed to fully assess the effects of unconventional oil and gas production on the quality of groundwater used for drinking water in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas

Image of first page of Western Lake Erie Water Monitoring Summary
May 28, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is measuring streamflow and collecting nutrient and sediment samples at stream gages in the Western Lake Erie Basin in Northwest Ohio.  

Housing structure for USGS Stream gage with Clear Fork Mohican River in the background
May 11, 2017

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) operates a network of real-time streamgages that continually record stage and streamflow every 15 to 60 minutes. 

A map of Pennsylvania indicating radon concentrations of water samples collected during a multi-year groundwater radon study. Ma
May 11, 2017

A new U.S. Geological Survey study has discovered high levels of radon in wells across certain areas of Pennsylvania.