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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National Groundwater Awareness Week
April 20, 2016

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

The water cycle diagram, especially made for school-aged kids.
April 14, 2016

Learn about water! As part of the USGS's Water Science School, we have created a water-cycle diagram for schools and "kids" of all ages, from 5-105. Our diagram is available in over 20 languages. We also offer an interactive diagram which...

The ecology teams quantitatively sample fish and mussels semiannually in the spring and fall
April 14, 2016

WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow) is a program of the Department of the Interior that focuses on improving water conservation and helping water-resource managers make sound decisions about water use....

Flooded Pier at Assawoman Bay, MD
April 14, 2016

One of the critical roles that USGS personnel play in their day-to-day activities is to respond in a timely and professional manner to floods that can occur at any time of the year and for a variety of reasons. The Flood Science Capability Team examines the cause and effect...

Large River Science in MO River Basin
April 14, 2016

Expertise in large river research provides science information to inform decisions on river management and restoration in the Midwest Region. Connectivity is a fundamental concept in river ecology and refers to opportunities for water to flow along and through riverine ecosystems. It is considered one of the primary drivers of river productivity, biological diversity and ecosystem health.

Historic water tower in Chicago.
March 15, 2016

The Water-Use Open Forum allows those involved in water-use data collection, data management, and regulation to communicate about challenges and solutions to water-use data issues, such as data collection, storage, QA/QC, analysis and data dissemination.

Mobile River Basin Chart
September 22, 2014

The Mobile River Basin study is one of several NAWQA studies that began in Federal fiscal year 1997 (October 1996). Study planning and design, and analysis of existing data will be done during the first 2 years, which is consistent with all NAWQA studies. After the 2-year planning period, surface- and ground-water and biological data will be collected intensively for 3 years during a high-...

Low Flow Study Images
May 1, 2014

As part of their mission to protect public health and aquatic ecosystems, Alabama state agencies need accurate and representative streamflow statistics to establish realistic and applicable criteria for both water quality and water quantity (fig. 1). Historically, low-flow statistics, such as the annual minimum 7-day average flow that likely will occur, on average, once every 10 years (7Q10),...

Black Warrior River Map
September 22, 2012

Static flood-inundation map libraries consist of maps that have been created in advance of a flood that are ready to be served through the Internet. Each library consists of a set of flood extent and depth maps developed for predetermined stream stage intervals (for example, a map for each one foot of stage). A user can view real-time or forecast stage data from a USGS streamgage or National...

Map of Mt. Pleasant Waterworks wells in the Charleston aquifer
September 22, 2012

StreamStats is a Web-based tool that provides streamflow statistics, drainage-basin characteristics, and other information for USGS streamgaging stations and for user-selected ungaged sites on streams. When users select the location of a streamgaging station, StreamStats provides previously published information from a database. When users select a site on an ungaged stream, StreamStats will...

Terrestrial Light Detection and Ranging (T-LiDAR) Technology
September 22, 2011

T-LiDAR technology utilizes reflected laser pulses sent from a tripod-mounted scanning instrument to determine distances to targets of interest. The resulting dataset is a 3 dimensional model or "point cloud" of millions of XYZ data points, spaced only a few millimeters apart. This highly detailed dataset is used by USGS scientists to create topographic models, make detailed...

Marshy area on Chesapeake Bay
September 5, 2011

The USGS is summarizing basic information on water resources for each parish in Louisiana and presenting the information in fact-sheet format. Information presented includes groundwater and surface-water availability, quality, development, use, and trends. These brief summaries of water resources will provide parish officials, local officials and concerned citizens with information needed to...

Explore new publications and highlighted collections.

Filter Total Items: 1,288
Biodynamics of copper oxide nanoparticles and copper ions in an oligochaete - Part II: Subcellular distribution following sediment exposure
Year Published: 2016

Biodynamics of copper oxide nanoparticles and copper ions in an oligochaete - Part II: Subcellular distribution following sediment exposure

The use and likely incidental release of metal nanoparticles (NPs) is steadily increasing. Despite the increasing amount of published literature on metal NP toxicity in the aquatic environment, very little is known about the biological fate of NPs after sediment exposures. Here, we compare the bioavailability and subcellular distribution of copper...

Thit, Amalie; Ramskov, Tina; Croteau, Marie-Noele; Selck, Henriette
Thit A, Ramskow T, Croteau MN, Selck H. 2016. Biodynamics of copper oxide nanoparticles and copper ions in an oligochaete, Part II: subcellular distribution following sediment exposure. Aquat. Toxicol.
Assessment of hydrogeologic terrains, well-construction characteristics, groundwater hydraulics, and water-quality and microbial data for determination of surface-water-influenced groundwater supplies in West Virginia
Year Published: 2016

Assessment of hydrogeologic terrains, well-construction characteristics, groundwater hydraulics, and water-quality and microbial data for determination of surface-water-influenced groundwater supplies in West Virginia

In January 2014, a storage tank leaked, spilling a large quantity of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol into the Elk River in West Virginia and contaminating the water supply for more than 300,000 people. In response, the West Virginia Legislature passed Senate Bill 373, which requires the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR)...

Kozar, Mark D.; Paybins, Katherine S.
Kozar, M.D., and Paybins, K.S., 2016, Assessment of hydrogeologic terrains, well-construction characteristics, groundwater hydraulics, and water-quality and microbial data for determination of surface-water-influenced groundwater supplies in West Virginia (ver. 1.1, October 2016): U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5048, 55 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20165048.
Flood inundation maps for the Wabash River at New Harmony, Indiana
Year Published: 2016

Flood inundation maps for the Wabash River at New Harmony, Indiana

Digital flood-inundation maps for a 3.68-mile reach of the Wabash River extending 1.77 miles upstream and 1.91 miles downstream from streamgage 03378500 at New Harmony, Indiana, were created by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

Fowler, Kathleen K.
Fowler, K.K., 2016, Flood-inundation maps for the Wabash River at New Harmony, Indiana: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5119, 14 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20165119.
The origin of shallow lakes in the Khorezm Province, Uzbekistan, and the history of pesticide use around these lakes
Year Published: 2016

The origin of shallow lakes in the Khorezm Province, Uzbekistan, and the history of pesticide use around these lakes

The economy of the Khorezm Province in Uzbekistan relies on the large-scale agricultural production of cotton. To sustain their staple crop, water from the Amu Darya is diverted for irrigation through canal systems constructed during the early to mid-twentieth century when this region was part of the Soviet Union. These diversions severely reduce...

Rosen, Michael R.; Crootof, Arica; Reidy, Liam; Saito, Laurel; Nishonov, Bakhriddin; Scott, Julian A.
Primary production in the Delta: Then and now
Year Published: 2016

Primary production in the Delta: Then and now

To evaluate the role of restoration in the recovery of the Delta ecosystem, we need to have clear targets and performance measures that directly assess ecosystem function. Primary production is a crucial ecosystem process, which directly limits the quality and quantity of food available for secondary consumers such as invertebrates and fish. The...

Cloern, James E.; Robinson, April; Richey, Amy; Grenier, Letitia; Grossinger, Robin; Boyer, Katharyn E.; Burau, Jon; Canuel, Elizabeth A.; DeGeorge, John F.; Drexler, Judith Z.; Enright, Chris; Howe, Emily R.; Kneib, Ronald; Mueller-Solger, Anke; Naiman, Robert J.; Pinckney, James L.; Safran, Samuel M.; Schoellhamer, David H.; Simenstad, Charles A.
U.S. block-level population density rasters for 1990, 2000, and 2010
Year Published: 2016

U.S. block-level population density rasters for 1990, 2000, and 2010

This dataset consists of three raster datasets representing population density for the years 1990, 2000, and 2010. All three rasters are based on block-level census geography data. The 1990 and 2000 data are derived from data normalized to 2000 block boundaries, while the 2010 data are based on 2010 block boundaries. The 1990 and 2000 data are...

Falcone, James
Falcone, J.A., 2016, U.S. block-level population density rasters for 1990, 2000, and 2010: U.S. Geological Survey data release, http://dx.doi.org/10.5066/F74J0C6M.
Datasets for determining the origin of shallow lakes in the Khorezm Province, Uzbekistan, and the history of pesticide use around these lakes
Year Published: 2016

Datasets for determining the origin of shallow lakes in the Khorezm Province, Uzbekistan, and the history of pesticide use around these lakes

This data release contains the data used to interpret the origin of the shallow lakes in the Khorezm Province, Uzbekistan, and the history of pesticide use around these lakes.

Rosen, Michael R.; Crootof, Arica; Reidy, Liam; Saito, Laurel; Nishonov, Bakhriddin; Scott, Julian A.
194 Rosen, M.R., Crootof, A., Reidy, L., Saito, L., Nishonov, B., Scott, J.A., 2016, Datasets for determining the origin of shallow lakes in the Khorezm Province, Uzbekistan, and the history of pesticide use around these lakes. US Geological Survey Data Release https://dx.doi.org/10.5066/F7319T07
Benthic processes affecting contaminant transport in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon
Year Published: 2016

Benthic processes affecting contaminant transport in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon

Executive SummaryMultiple sampling trips during calendar years 2013 through 2015 were coordinated to provide measurements of interdependent benthic processes that potentially affect contaminant transport in Upper Klamath Lake (UKL), Oregon. The measurements were motivated by recognition that such internal processes (for example, solute benthic...

Kuwabara, James S.; Topping, Brent R.; Carter, James L.; Carlson, Rick A; Parchaso, Francis; Fend, Steven V.; Stauffer-Olsen, Natalie; Manning, Andrew J.; Land, Jennie M.
Kuwabara, J.S., Topping, B.R., Carter, J.L., Carlson, R.A., Parchaso, F., Fend, S.V., Stauffer-Olsen, N., Manning, A.J., Land, J.M., 2016, Benthic processes affecting contaminant transport in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon (ver. 1.1, October 2016): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1175, 103 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161175.
Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms and U.S. Geological Survey science capabilities
Year Published: 2016

Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms and U.S. Geological Survey science capabilities

Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CyanoHABs) are increasingly a global concern because CyanoHABs pose a threat to human and aquatic ecosystem health and cause economic damages. Despite advances in scientific understanding of cyanobacteria and associated compounds, many unanswered questions remain about occurrence, environmental triggers for...

Graham, Jennifer L.; Dubrovsky, Neil M.; Eberts, Sandra M.
Graham, J.L., Dubrovsky, N.M., and Eberts, S.M., 2016, Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms and U.S. Geological Survey science capabilities: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1174, 12 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161174.
Simulating groundwater flow in karst aquifers with distributed parameter models—Comparison of porous-equivalent media and hybrid flow approaches
Year Published: 2016

Simulating groundwater flow in karst aquifers with distributed parameter models—Comparison of porous-equivalent media and hybrid flow approaches

Understanding karst aquifers, for purposes of their management and protection, poses unique challenges. Karst aquifers are characterized by groundwater flow through conduits (tertiary porosity), and (or) layers with interconnected pores (secondary porosity) and through intergranular porosity (primary or matrix porosity).

Kuniansky, Eve L.
Kuniansky, E.L., 2016, Simulating groundwater flow in karst aquifers with distributed parameter models—Comparison of porous-equivalent media and hybrid flow approaches: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5116, 14 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20165116.
Custom map projections for regional groundwater models
Year Published: 2016

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.
Kuniansky, Eve L., 2016, Custom Map Projections for Regional Groundwater Models: Groundwater online early (DOI:10.1111/gwat.12450)
Assessing groundwater depletion and dynamics using GRACE and InSAR: Potential and limitations
Year Published: 2016

Assessing groundwater depletion and dynamics using GRACE and InSAR: Potential and limitations

In the last decade, remote sensing of the temporal variation of ground level and gravity has improved our understanding of groundwater dynamics and storage. Mass changes are measured by GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellites, whereas ground deformation is measured by processing synthetic aperture radar satellites data using the...

Castellazzi, Pascal; Martel, Richard; Galloway, Devin L.; Longuevergne, Laurent; Rivera, Alfonso
Castellazzi, P., Martel, R., Galloway, D. L., Longuevergne, L. and Rivera, A. (2016), Assessing Groundwater Depletion and Dynamics Using GRACE and InSAR: Potential and Limitations. Groundwater. doi:10.1111/gwat.12453

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: 605
Two men stand next to a building in yellow life jackets
August 26, 2016
Chris Henry and Daniel McCay, USGS hydrologic technicians, use GPS equipment to survey a high-water mark outside of a flooded elementary school in Denham Springs, Louisiana, August 28. This school was located in one of the hardest hit flood areas and the blue line simulates how high the water was at its peak during this historic flood.
Two men mark a high-water mark on a structure
August 26, 2016
Daniel McCay and Chris Henry, USGS hydrologic technicians, use a level to draw a line on a high-water mark August 26. In most circumstances, when a high-water mark is flagged it would then be surveyed with GPS equipment to obtain its exact coordinates and elevation. However, because of the possibility of more storms hitting Louisiana the teams were initially only flagging marks at first, in order...
A man in an orange shirt writes on a pad of paper
August 26, 2016
Jonathan Gillip, USGS hydrologist, documents a high-water mark he flagged near a damage retirement community in Denham Springs, Louisiana, August 26. So far, USGS teams have flagged and surveyed more than 400 high-watermarks across southern Louisiana.
Two men walk by debris along the side of the road
August 26, 2016
Daniel McCay and Chris Henry, U.S. Geological Survey hydrologic technicians, search a neighborhood south of Denham Springs, Louisiana, for high-water marks August 26. The term high-water mark refers to the debris flood waters will leave on walls, buildings and trees. This thin line of residue is an indicator of how high the waters reached, yet the fragile nature of these marks means they must be...
3 USGS scientists retrieve AUV from Great South Bay, Long Island
August 24, 2016
Retrieval and Results Processed data are exported to two- and three- dimensional mapping applications to visualize water-quality distributions. Combined with observed water currents and bathymetric contours, this allows for an integrated analysis of the system under investigation.
The AUV travels along the under-bay section of the Bergen Point Sewage Treatment Plant outfall pipe in Babylon, NY.
August 24, 2016
The AUV travels along the under-bay section of the Bergen Point Sewage Treatment Plant outfall pipe in Babylon, NY. The goal is to see if changes in surrounding water-quality suggest potential leaks in the aging infrastructure.
A buoy warning of the under-bay sewage treatment plant pipeline in Great South Bay, Long Island
August 24, 2016
A buoy warning of the under-bay sewage treatment plant pipeline appears to guide the AUV on its course; confirming that the AUV’s position is accurate. The AUV uses a differential global positioning system (GPS) receiver and bottom-tracking Doppler velocimetry log (DVL) to maintain position.
2 men in boat on Great South Bay using a hydrophone to locate AUV
August 22, 2016
If the vehicle becomes stuck or disabled at depth, a hydrophone can be used to locate the submerged instrument. When at the surface, the AUV can send its retrieval location to a web server or cell phone.
AUV in Great South Bay, Long Island, NY
August 22, 2016
This autonomous instrument reduces the time and manpower traditionally needed for manned-boat surveys. Because geologic, biologic, hydraulic, and chemical data are collected simultaneously; the datasets allow for a systems-based approach to analysis.
lowering Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) into Great South Bay, Long Island
August 21, 2016
The AUV navigates to its starting position before diving to a fixed distance off the seabed to measure dissolved oxygen concentrations in the Great South Bay, Long Island, NY. The goal is to document the spatial extent of low dissolved oxygen concentrations, or hypoxia, to identify the best habitat for juvenile hard clam survival.
2 men leaning over boat holding Automomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)
August 21, 2016
USGS Scientists launching an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) An AUV can provide high spatial resolution of water-quality characteristics; such as, temperature, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, chlorophyll, and blue-green algae. The instrument can also provide bathymetry data, water velocity profiles, and side-scan sonar imagery. All of these data are collected...
August 15, 2016
The view on South Sherwood Forest Blvd near the USGS Louisiana Water Science Center office on August 15, 2016.
Filter Total Items: 279
Image shows flooded roads with boats alongside the banks
September 28, 2016

Some regional trends; no widespread national pattern

USGS: Science for a changing world
September 26, 2016

Reporters: Do you want to accompany a USGS field crew as they measure flooding? Please contact Jason McVay at 319-430-6962.

Iowa
September 23, 2016

Reporters: Do you want to accompany a USGS field crew as they measure flooding? Please contact Jason McVay at 319-430-6962.

Ariel photo of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta
September 20, 2016

New research from the U.S. Geological Survey and partners illustrates how climate change is perceived among different generations of indigenous residents in subarctic Alaska. While all subjects agreed climate change is occurring, the older participants observed more overall changes than the younger demographic.

Image: Boise Watershed Watch
September 19, 2016

Now in its ninth year, Watershed Watch educates children and adults about the health of the Boise River watershed

A U.S. Geological Survey hydrologic technician, uses an Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter to measure stream flow on a Florida creek.
September 2, 2016

Working quickly, making decisions based on the National Hurricane Center’s latest forecasts, often working in storm winds and rain, USGS scientists use a variety of techniques to forecast and track coastal flooding caused by Hermine.

two men standing near a well. Truck-mounted rig and well head visible.
August 29, 2016

TECHNICAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Monitoring, verification and accounting are key parts to demonstrating the feasibility or success of integrated carbon capture and storage technologies.

Mt. Lyell and view of Vogelsang Pass, Yosemite National Park, 1913
August 25, 2016

In celebration of the National Park Service Centennial, 1916-2016