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: 118
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...

Erosion along the Rio Puerco during the flood of 2006 following herbicide application to control saltcedar in 2003.
August 1, 2016

Formation of arroyos in the late 1800s greatly increased erosion across the southwestern United States. Since the 1930s, however, this erosion has decreased, partly because of bank stabilization by introduced saltcedar. With Isleta Pueblo Indian Nation, the Aquatic Systems Branch developed a new sediment dating method using saltcedar tree rings. We applied the method in a landmark study of...

The Little Missouri River, flood plain
July 5, 2016

Aquatic Systems Branch scientists analyze rings of riparian trees relating tree growth and establishment to historical flow. We then use the tree rings to reconstruct the flow in past centuries. Flow reconstructions discover the frequency and magnitude of past droughts and floods—information that is essential for management of rivers and water supplies. We...

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
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
April 20, 2016

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

Image: USGS Scientists Monitor Animas River
April 20, 2016

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

Filter Total Items: 1,463
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.

Year Published: 2016

Groundwater quality in the Southeastern Coastal Plain aquifer system, southeastern 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 Southeastern Coastal Plain aquifer system ...

Barlow, Jeannie; Lindsey, Bruce; Belitz, Kenneth
Attribution: Water
Barlow, Jeannie R.B., and Belitz, Kenneth, 2016, Groundwater quality in the Southeastern Coastal Plain aquifer system, Southeastern United States: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016-3076, 4 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/fs20163076.

Year Published: 2016

Groundwater quality in the Valley and Ridge and Piedmont and Blue Ridge carbonate-rock aquifers, 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 Valley and Ridge and Piedmont and Blue Ridge carbonate-...

Lindsey, Bruce; Belitz, Kenneth
Attribution: Water
Lindsey, Bruce, and Belitz, Kenneth, 2016, Groundwater quality in the Valley and Ridge and Piedmont and Blue Ridge carbonate-rock aquifers, Eastern United States: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016-3079, 4 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/fs20163079.

Year Published: 2016

Final Laurentide ice-sheet deglaciation and Holocene climate-sea level change

Despite elevated summer insolation forcing during the early Holocene, global ice sheets retained nearly half of their volume from the Last Glacial Maximum, as indicated by deglacial records of global mean sea level (GMSL). Partitioning the GMSL rise among potential sources requires accurate dating of ice-sheet extent to estimate ice-sheet volume....

Ullman, David J.; Carlson, Anders E.; Hostetler, Steven W.; Clark, Peter U.; Cuzzone, Joshua; Milne, Glenn A.; Winsor, Kelsey; Caffee, Marc A.
Attribution: Water
Ullman, D.J., Carlson, A.E., Hostetler, S.W., Clark, P.U., Cuzzone, J., Milne, G.A., Winsor, K., Caffee, M., 2016, Final Laurentide ice-sheet deglaciation and Holocene climate-sea level change, Quaternary Science Reviews, 152, pp. 49-59, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.09.014

Year Published: 2016

Implementation and evaluation of a monthly water balance model over the US on an 800 m grid

We simulate the 1950–2010 water balance for the conterminous U.S. (CONUS) with a monthly water balance model (MWBM) using the 800 m Parameter-elevation Regression on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) data set as model input. We employed observed snow and streamflow data sets to guide modification of the snow and potential evapotranspiration...

Hostetler, Steven W.; Alder, Jay R.
Attribution: Water
Hostetler, S.W, Alder, J.R., 2016, Implementation and evaluation of a monthly water balance model over the US on an 800 m grid, Water Resources Research, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2016WR018665

Year Published: 2016

Crustal permeability

Permeability is the primary control on fluid flow in the Earth’s crust and is key to a surprisingly wide range of geological processes, because it controls the advection of heat and solutes and the generation of anomalous pore pressures.  The practical importance of permeability – and the potential for large, dynamic changes in permeability...

Gleeson, Tom; Ingebritsen, Steven E.
Attribution: Water
Gleeson, T., and Ingebritsen, S.E., eds., 2016, Crustal Permeability: Chichester, AGU/Wiley Blackwell, 451 p.

Year Published: 2016

Data on annual total nitrogen loads and watershed characteristics used to develop a method to estimate the total nitrogen loads in small streams

This USGS Data Release represents the data used to develop multiple linear regression models for estimating the loads of total nitrogen in small streams. Recursive partitioning and random forest regression were used to assess 85 geospatial, environmental, and watershed variables across 636 small (less than 585 square kilometers) watersheds to...

Kronholm, Scott C.; Capel, Paul D.; Terziotti, Silvia
Attribution: Water

Year Published: 2016

Nutrient and pesticide data collected from the USGS National Water Quality Network and previous networks, 1980-2015

The National Water Quality Network (NWQN) for Rivers and Streams includes 113 surface-water river and stream sites monitored by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water Quality Program, National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project. The NWQN includes 19 large river coastal sites, 44 large river inland sites, 30 wadeable stream...

Deacon, Jeffrey R.; Lee, Casey; Norman, Julia E.; Reutter, David C.
Attribution: Water
Jeff Deacon, Casey Lee, Julia Norman, and David Reutter, 2017, Nutrient and pesticide data collected from the USGS National Water Quality Network and previous networks, 1963-2016: U.S. Geological Survey

Year Published: 2016

Combined exposure of diesel exhaust particles and respirable Soufrière Hills volcanic ash causes a (pro-)inflammatory response in an in vitro multicellular epithelial tissue barrier model

BackgroundThere are justifiable health concerns regarding the potential adverse effects associated with human exposure to volcanic ash (VA) particles, especially when considering communities living in urban areas already exposed to heightened air pollution. The aim of this study was, therefore, to gain an imperative, first understanding of the...

Tomašek, Ines; Horwell, Claire J.; Damby, David; Barošová, Hana; Geers, Christoph; Petri-Fink, Alke; Rothen-Rutishauser, Barbara; Clift, Martin J. D.
Attribution: Water
Tomašek, I., Horwell, C.J., Damby, D.E., Barošová, H., Geers, C., Petri-Fink, A., Rothen-Rutishauser, B., Clift, M.J.D., 2016, Combined exposure of diesel exhaust particles and respirable Soufrière Hills volcanic ash causes a (pro-)inflammatory response in an in vitro multicellular epithelial tissue barrier model: Particle and Fibre Toxicology, 13:67, http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12989-016-0178-9

Year Published: 2016

Multireaction equilibrium geothermometry: A sensitivity analysis using data from the Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, USA

A multireaction chemical equilibria geothermometry (MEG) model applicable to high-temperature geothermal systems has been developed over the past three decades. Given sufficient data, this model provides more constraint on calculated reservoir temperatures than classical chemical geothermometers that are based on either the concentration of silica...

King, Jonathan M.; Hurwitz, Shaul; Lowenstern, Jacob B.; Nordstrom, D. Kirk; McCleskey, R. Blaine
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
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...
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.
flooding along the Carson River near Carson City, NV
February 11, 2017
Flood water on Carson River near Nevada Water Science Center Office.
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
Snowshoeing in the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, New Mexico as part of a snowpack hydrology study
January 24, 2017
Student Aurelia Mitchell recently trekked up into the Sandia Mountains 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. This information can be used in the future to calculate...
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...
Hydrologic technician making an ice-affected stream discharge measurement.
January 19, 2017
Hydrologic Technician, James Albrecht, from the North Platte Field Office making a measurement of discharge under ice using a Flowtracker acoustic velocity meter on a top-setting wading rod. The string going across the picture is a tagline, used for measuring distance across the channel so that he can note the location of the ice hole he is working in. Typically, the technician will drill about...
Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler
January 9, 2017
A U.S. Geological Survey field crew uses an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler to measure water velocity on the Truckee River in Reno, Nevada.
2016 (approx.)
Sometimes the whole is actually *less* than the sum of its parts. In this case, it turns out that cadmium and zinc, when combined in ratios like you'd see in the environment, they are actually less toxic to aquatic insects than adding up their individual toxicities. Read more: http://on.doi.gov/2dVvUtj Video shows caddisflies, one of the insects studied in the research, in an artificial stream...
Water flowing from culvert
2016 (approx.)
Hampton Roads WQMP Image 1. Water flowing from a culvert.
Filter Total Items: 325
Center-pivot sprinkler in Nebraska.
December 14, 2016

The USGS National Water-Use Science project has documented 60 years of water-use from 1950 to 2010 in an interactive map.  Choose a year and pick a category to see how much water your state uses. 

Map of Northern High Plains Aquifer
December 13, 2016

A new U.S. Geological Survey publication and model can be applied by multiple entities to better understand flow, quantity, sources and sinks of groundwater in the Northern High Plains Aquifer, which covers approximately 100,000 square miles across Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming.

Photo of two of the main spring discharge points of Comal springs.
December 7, 2016

A new U.S. Geological Survey website provides important information about streamflow in the Comal and San Marcos Rivers and springflow at Comal and San Marcos Springs. This website was developed in collaboration with the Edwards Aquifer Authority.

Christian Schmidt
November 28, 2016

Former Montana Water Quality Administrator Begins Work in Boise

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.