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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USGS technician monitoring a low flow in a stream while standing on a pebble island in stream in summer.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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: 1,463
Year Published: 2017

Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Model (WEBMOD), user’s manual, version 1

The Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Model (WEBMOD) uses the framework of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Modular Modeling System to simulate fluxes of water and solutes through watersheds. WEBMOD divides watersheds into model response units (MRU) where fluxes and reactions are simulated for the following eight hillslope reservoir types: canopy...

Webb, Richard M.T.; Parkhurst, David L.
Attribution: Water
Webb, R.M.T., and Parkhurst, D.L., 2017, Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Model (WEBMOD), user’s manual, version 1: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 6, chap. B35, 171 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/tm6B35.

Year Published: 2017

Estimated annual agricultural pesticide use by crop group for states of the conterminous United States, 1992-2014

This dataset provides estimates of annual agricultural use of pesticide compounds by crop group at the state level for states in the conterminous United States, for the time period 1992-2014, compiled from data used to make county-level estimates by means of methods described in Thelin and Stone (2013) and Baker and Stone (2015). The source of...

Baker, Nancy T.
Attribution: Water
Baker, N. T. , 2017, Estimated annual agricultural pesticide use by crop group for states of the conterminous United States, 1992-2014: U.S. Geological Survey Data Release, https://dx.doi.org/10.5066/F7NP22KM.

Year Published: 2017

Tracer-based characterization of hyporheic exchange and benthic biolayers in streams

Shallow benthic biolayers at the top of the streambed are believed to be places of enhanced biogeochemical turnover within the hyporheic zone. They can be investigated by reactive stream tracer tests with tracer recordings in the streambed and in the stream channel. Common in-stream measurements of such reactive tracers cannot localize where the...

Knapp, Julia L.A.; González-Pinzón, Ricardo; Drummond, Jennifer D.; Larsen, Laurel G.; Cirpka, Olaf A.; Harvey, Judson W.
Attribution: Water
Knapp, J.L.A., González-Pinzón, R., Drummond, J.D., Larsen, L.G., Cirpka, O.A. and Harvey, J.W., 2017, Tracer-based characterization of hyporheic exchange and benthic biolayers in streams, Water Resources Research, vol. 53, n. 2, p. 1575-1594.

Year Published: 2017

WARP model pesticide predictions for EPA reach file 1 segments: 1992-2012

The Watershed Regressions for Pesticides (WARP) models were developed using linear regression methods to establish quantitative linkages between pesticide concentrations measured at U.S. Geological Survey sampling sites and a variety of human-related and natural factors that affect pesticide concentrations in streams. Such factors include...

Stone, Wesley W.
Attribution: Water

Year Published: 2017

Microbially mediated barite dissolution in anoxic brines

Fluids injected into shale formations during hydraulic fracturing of black shale return with extraordinarily high total-dissolved-solids (TDS) and high concentrations of barium (Ba) and radium (Ra). Barite, BaSO4, has been implicated as a possible source of Ba as well as a problematic mineral scale that forms on internal well surfaces, often in...

Ouyang, Bingjie; Akob, Denise M.; Dunlap, Darren S.; Renock, Devon
Attribution: Water
Ouyang, B., D. M. Akob, D. S. Dunlap, and D. Renock. 2017. Microbially mediated barite dissolution in anoxic brines. Applied Geochemistry, 76: 51-59.

Year Published: 2017

Evaluating mountain meadow groundwater response to Pinyon-Juniper and temperature in a great basin watershed

This research highlights development and application of an integrated hydrologic model (GSFLOW) to a semiarid, snow-dominated watershed in the Great Basin to evaluate Pinyon-Juniper (PJ) and temperature controls on mountain meadow shallow groundwater. The work used Google Earth Engine Landsat satellite and gridded climate archives for model...

Carroll, Rosemary W.H.; Huntington, Justin L.; Snyder, Keirith A.; Niswonger, Richard G.; Morton, Charles; Stringham, Tamzen K.
Attribution: Water
Carroll, R. W., Huntington, J. L., Snyder, K. A., Niswonger, R., Morton, C., & Stringham, T. K. (2016). Evaluating mountain meadow groundwater response to Pinyon‐Juniper and temperature in a Great Basin watershed. Ecohydrology.

Year Published: 2017

Nutrient processes at the stream-lake interface for a channelized versus unmodified stream mouth

Inorganic forms of nitrogen and phosphorous impact freshwater lakes by stimulating primary production and affecting water quality and ecosystem health. Communities around the world are motivated to sustain and restore freshwater resources and are interested in processes controlling nutrient inputs. We studied the environment where streams flow...

Niswonger, Richard G.; Naranjo, Ramon C.; Smith, David; Constantz, James E.; Allander, Kip K.; Rosenberry, Donald O.; Neilson, Bethany; Rosen, Michael R.; Stonestrom, David A.
Attribution: Water
Niswonger, R., Naranjo, R., Smith, D., Constantz, J., Allander, K., Rosenberry, D., Neilson, B., Rosen, M., Stonestrom, D., 2017, Nutrient processes at the stream-lake interface for a channelized versus unmodified stream mouth, Water Resour. Res., 53, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2016WR019538

Year Published: 2017

Potentially exploitable supercritical geothermal resources in the ductile crust

The hypothesis that the brittle–ductile transition (BDT) drastically reduces permeability implies that potentially exploitable geothermal resources (permeability >10−16 m2) consisting of supercritical water could occur only in rocks with unusually high transition temperatures such as basalt. However, tensile fracturing is possible even in...

Watanabe, Noriaki; Numakura, Tatsuya; Sakaguchi, Kiyotoshi; Saishu, Hanae; Okamoto, Atsushi; Ingebritsen, Steven E.; Tsuchiya, Noriyoshi
Attribution: Water

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

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: 770
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...
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.
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
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 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 - 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...
Hydro techs use q boat to make streamflow measurement
2017 (approx.)
Scientists from the USGS Albuquerque Field Office use an ADCP mounted on a remotely-controlled Q boat to measure the streamflow of the Rio Grande near Bosque Farms. Use of the Q boat allows our hydro techs to safely and quickly respond to flood events that may threaten the public. The Q boat also saves time and manpower as compared to traditional measurement methods.
USGS hydrologic technician measures floodwaters along Flat Creek near Jenkins, Missouri.
April 30, 2017
USGS hydrologic technician measures floodwaters along Flat Creek near Jenkins, Missouri using an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiling instrument.
USGS hydrologic technician Christopher Rowden verifies the accuracy of streamgage information at the Jacks Fork River.
April 30, 2017
USGS hydrologic technician Christopher Rowden verifies the accuracy of streamgage information at the Jacks Fork River at Eminence, Missouri.
April 12, 2017
Kathy Conn, a U.S. Geological Survey Water Quality Specialist, demonstrates a new USGS field method using a continuous flow centrifuge to collect suspended sediment from large volumes of water in the Duwamish River near Seattle Washington.
Filter Total Items: 325
USGS logo
February 8, 2017

A new JavaScript library, called GWIS (Graphing Water Information System), can create time-series plots of information measured at U.S. Geological Survey hydrologic data collection sites across the United States.

The Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion structure, located at the head of Breton Sound Estuary, became operational in 1992.
February 8, 2017

New research shows how river diversions may change water quality in estuaries. 

Dr. Christian Zimmerman, USGS Alaska Science Center Director
February 1, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Christian Zimmerman as the new director of their Alaska Science Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Zimmerman succeeds Dr. Mark Shasby who held the position for the past six years.

Freshwater Stream
January 30, 2017

Consistent, national-scale and long-term water-quality monitoring of the Nation's rivers and streams has declined, in some cases, by more than half over time

USGS Streamgage on the Williamson River
January 24, 2017

USGS uses state-of-the-art science techniques to estimate phosphorus and suspended-sediment loads to Upper Klamath Lake in the Klamath Basin.

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.