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: 94
Monitoring set-up at the watersheds site which includes boards and such to direct water flow to drainage.
September 24, 2016

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was established to accelerate ecosystem restoration in the Great Lakes by confronting the most serious threats to the region, such as nonpoint source pollution, toxic sediments, and invasive species. Three Priority Watersheds have been targeted by the Regional Working Group's Phosphorus Reduction Work Group (Fox/Green Bay, Saginaw, and Maumee)...

River with blue reflection, in late summer, leaves just starting to turn from green to gold.
September 24, 2016

In support of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Water Chemistry Monitoring Project, the USGS Michigan Water Science Center has been collecting long-term water quality data for Michigan's rivers and streams. Water samples are collected 4 to 12 times a year for selected nutrients, trace metals, sediment, and other water-quality constituents. Intensive sampling (12...

Girls getting a glass of water at a well pump at The Tollgate House, Meridian Historical Village, Okemos, MI
September 22, 2016

The USGS compiles water use information by State including estimated amounts, sources, and categories of use every five years since 1950. Sources include surface water and groundwater, both fresh and saline. Categories include public supply, domestic, livestock, industrial, irrigation, and thermoelectric power. These data provide a source of information about regional and national trends in...

USGS Hydrologist examining water collection using specialized equipment.
September 22, 2016

The USGS, in cooperation with the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, will analyze water sample results from 20 Lansing area wells. The objective of this study is to investigate well characteristics and other factors that may influence the susceptibility of drinking water-supply wells to contamination by contaminants of emerging concern. This information can be used by Lansing and other...

Mobile River Basin Study
September 22, 2016

The Mobile River Basin in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee 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 resources, and to provide a...

Bridge over river in late summer, trees just starting to change to fall colors.
September 21, 2016

The USGS implemented the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program in 1991 to develop long-term consistent and comparable information on streams, rivers, groundwater, and aquatic systems in support of national, regional, State, and local information needs and decisions related to water-quality management and policy.

USGS Hydrologist working in winter on frozen river collecting samples.
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.
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...

The Water Cycle for Schools Poster
September 20, 2016

► Visit the Water Cycle for Schools Web site

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
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.
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...

Poudre River looking upstream.
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...

Filter Total Items: 1,442
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

Year Published: 2017

Custom map projections for regional groundwater models

For regional groundwater flow models (areas greater than 100,000 km2), improper choice of map projection parameters can result in model error for boundary conditions dependent on area (recharge or evapotranspiration simulated by application of a rate using cell area from model discretization) and length (rivers simulated with head-dependent flux...

Kuniansky, Eve L.
Attribution: Water
Kuniansky, Eve L., 2016, Custom Map Projections for Regional Groundwater Models: Groundwater online early (DOI:10.1111/gwat.12450)

Year Published: 2017

The genetic basis of anoxygenic photosynthetic arsenite oxidation

“Photoarsenotrophy”, the use of arsenite as an electron donor for anoxygenic photosynthesis, is thought to be an ancient form of phototrophy along with the photosynthetic oxidation of Fe(II), H2S, H2, and NO2-. Photoarsenotrophy was recently identified from Paoha Island's (Mono Lake, CA) arsenic-rich hot springs. The genomes of several...

Hernandez-Maldonado, Jamie; Sanchez-Sedillo, Benjamin; Stoneburner, Brendon; Boren, Alison; Miller, Laurence G.; McCann, Shelley; Rosen, Michael R.; Oremland, Ronald S.; Saltikov, Chad W.
Attribution: Water
Hernandez-Maldonado, J., Sanchez-Sedillo, B., Stoneburner, B., Boren, A., Miller, L., McCann, S., Rosen, M., Oremland, R. S., Saltikov, C. W., 2016, The genetic basis of anoxygenic photosynthetic arsenite oxidation: Environmental Microbiology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.13509

Year Published: 2017

Salinity influences on aboveground and belowground net primary productivity in tidal wetlands

Tidal freshwater wetlands are one of the most vulnerable ecosystems to climate change and rising sea levels. However salinification within these systems is poorly understood, therefore, productivity (litterfall, woody biomass, and fine roots) were investigated on three forested tidal wetlands [(1) freshwater, (2) moderately saline, and (...

Pierfelice, Kathryn N.; Graeme Lockaby, B.; Krauss, Ken W.; Conner, William H.; Noe, Gregory; Ricker, Matthew C.
Attribution: Water
Pierfelice, K.N, B.G. Lockaby, K.W. Krauss, W.H. Conner, G.B. Noe, and M.C. Ricker. 2015. Salinity influences on above- and belowground net primary productivity in tidal wetlands. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering. DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)HE.1943-5584.0001223

Year Published: 2016

Chapter 1: Hydrologic exchange flows and their ecological consequences in river corridors

The actively flowing waters of streams and rivers remain in close contact with surrounding off-channel and subsurface environments. These hydrologic linkages between relatively fast flowing channel waters, with more slowly flowing waters off-channel and in the subsurface, are collectively referred to as hydrologic exchange flows (HEFs). HEFs...

Harvey, Judson
Attribution: Water
J.W. Harvey, Hydrologic Exchange Flows and Their Ecological Consequences in River Corridors, In: J.B. Jones and E. Stanley, 2016, Stream Ecosystems in a Changing Environment, Elsevier, p. 1-83.

Year Published: 2016

Use of multiple age tracers to estimate groundwater residence times and long-term recharge rates in arid southern Oman

Multiple age tracers were measured to estimate groundwater residence times in the regional aquifer system underlying southwestern Oman. This area, known as the Najd, is one of the most arid areas in the world and is planned to be the main agricultural center of the Sultanate of Oman in the near future. The three isotopic age tracers 4He, 14C and...

Müller, Th.; Osenbrück, K.; Strauch, G.; Pavetich, S.; Al-Mashaikhi, K.-S.; Herb, C.; Merchel, S.; Rugel, G.; Aeschbach, W.; Sanford, Ward E.
Attribution: Water
Applied Geochemistry Volume 74, November 2016, Pages 67–83 Applied Geochemistry Volume 74, November 2016, Pages 67–83 Cover image Use of multiple age tracers to estimate groundwater residence times and long-term recharge rates in arid southern Oman Th. Müllera, , K. Osenbrückb, G. Straucha, S. Pavetichc, 1, K.-S. Al-Mashaikhid, C. Herbe, S. Merchelc, G. Rugelc, W. Aeschbache, W. Sanfordf Th. Müllera, , K. Osenbrückb, G. Straucha, S. Pavetichc, 1, K.-S. Al-Mashaikhid, C. Herbe, S. Merchelc, G. Rugelc, W. Aeschbache, W. Sanfordf

Year Published: 2016

Groundwater quality in the Basin and Range Basin-Fill Aquifers, southwestern United States

Groundwater provides nearly 50 percent of the Nation’s drinking water. To help protect this vital resource, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project assesses groundwater quality in aquifers that are important sources of drinking water. The Basin and Range basin-fill aquifers constitute one of the...

Musgrove, MaryLynn; Belitz, Kenneth
Attribution: Water
Musgrove, MaryLynn, and Belitz, Kenneth, 2016, Groundwater Quality in the Basin and Range basin-fill aquifers, Southwestern United States: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016-3080, 4 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/fs20163080.

Year Published: 2016

Groundwater quality in the Coastal Lowlands aquifer system, south-central United States

Groundwater provides nearly 50 percent of the Nation’s drinking water. To help protect this vital resource, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project assesses groundwater quality in aquifers that are important sources of drinking water. The Coastal Lowlands aquifer system constitutes one of the important...

Barlow, Jeannie R.B.; Belitz, Kenneth
Attribution: Water
Barlow, Jeannie R.B., and Belitz, Kenneth, 2016, Groundwater quality in the Coastal Lowlands aquifer system, South-Central United States: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016-3077, 4 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/fs20163077.

Year Published: 2016

Groundwater quality in the Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain aquifer system, eastern United States

Groundwater provides nearly 50 percent of the Nation’s drinking water. To help protect this vital resource, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project assesses groundwater quality in aquifers that are important sources of drinking water. The Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain aquifer system constitutes one of...

Lindsey, Bruce; Belitz, Kenneth
Attribution: Water
Lindsey, Bruce, and Belitz, Kenneth, 2016, Groundwater quality in the Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain aquifer system, Eastern United States: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016-3078, 4 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/fs20163078.

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: 737
Hydro techs clean a water quality sensor prior to deployment
2017 (approx.)
Hydrologic technicians Joe Beman, Hal Nelson, and Kate Allison, and course instructor Mike Nyman clean a water quality sensor prior to redeployment at a Water Quality Field Course put on by the New Mexico Water Science Center.
2017 (approx.)
The USGS Texas Water Science Center has developed a new mobile application called “Water On-the-Go” that gives people easy access to current conditions in streams across Texas. The information reflects what is happening in streams near you at that very moment. Go to -- https://txpub.usgs.gov/water-onthego -- to see where waters are rising and how current conditions are changing around you. #...
Hydro techs record initial sensor reading prior to sensor cleaning and recalibration.
2017 (approx.)
Several New Mexico Water Science Center staff attended Continuous Water Quality Training, taught by Mike Nyman of the Texas Water Science Center and Lauren Sherson of the New Mexico Water Science Center. The course covered rationale for collecting continuous water quality data; field techniques for in-situ and continuous water quality data collection; and standard USGS waterquality data...
Scientist standing in streamgaging platform hanging over a river.
March 23, 2017
USGS Hydrologic Technician Kim Cesal measuring 3170 cfs at 12409000 Colville River at Kettle Falls, WA. This measurement is the highest made at the gaging site. The gage has been in operation since October 1922. The gage was installed to monitor flows from Meyer Falls Dam and Power Generation.
snow and ice on Mohawk River at Lock 8
March 20, 2017
Mohawk River at Lock 8 near Schenectady, New York (01354330)
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.
Filter Total Items: 319
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.

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.

USGS: Science for a changing world
January 10, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey’s California Water Science Center is hosting a media event Wednesday, Jan. 11 at a USGS streamgage location about 7 miles north of Santa Cruz, California. A hydrologist will be available for interviews as field crews collect streamflow data.