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: 153
A cutthroat trout up close. James Roberts photo. USGS.
Date Published: 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 importance a...

Poudre River looking upstream.
Date Published: 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 potentially be...

Date Published: 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
Date Published: 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
Date Published: April 20, 2016

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

Image: USGS Scientists Monitor Animas River
Date Published: April 20, 2016

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

National Groundwater Awareness Week
Date Published: April 20, 2016

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

The Water Cycle for Schools and Kids
Date Published: 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 allows you to "...

The ecology teams quantitatively sample fish and mussels semiannually in the spring and fall
Date Published: 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
Date Published: 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...

Historic water tower in Chicago.
Date Published: 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.

Filter Total Items: 1,532
Year Published: 2017

Long-term flow-through column experiments and their relevance to natural granitoid weathering rates

Four pairs of fresh and partly-weathered granitoids, obtained from well-characterized watersheds—Merced River, CA, USA; Panola, GA, USA; Loch Vale, CO, USA, and Rio Icacos, Puerto Rico—were reacted in columns under ambient laboratory conditions for 13.8 yrs, the longest running experimental weathering study to date. Low total column mass losses (...

White, Arthur F.; Schulz, Marjorie S.; Lawrence, Corey R.; Vivit, Davison V.; Stonestrom, David A.
Attribution: Water
White, A.F., Schulz, M.S., Lawrence, C.R., Vivit, D.V., Stonestrom, D.A., 2016, Long-Term Flow-Through Column Experiments and Their Relevance to Natural Granitoid Weathering Rates, Geochemica et Cosmochemica Acta, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2016.11.042

Year Published: 2017

Evaluation of diffuse and preferential flow pathways of infiltratedprecipitation and irrigation using oxygen and hydrogen isotopes

Subsurface-water flow pathways in three different land-use areas (non-irrigated grassland, poplar forest, and irrigated arable land) in the central North China Plain were investigated using oxygen (18O) and hydrogen (2H) isotopes in samples of precipitation, soils, and groundwater. Soil water in the top 10 cm was significantly affected by...

Ma, Bin; Liang, Xing; Liu, Shaohua; Jin, Menggui; Nimmo, John R.; Li, Jingxin
Attribution: Water
Ma, Bin; Liang, Xing; Liu, Shaohua; Jin, Menggui; Nimmo, John R.; Li, Jing Evaluation of diffuse and preferential flow pathways of infiltrated precipitation and irrigation using oxygen and hydrogen isotopes Hydrogeology Journal Issue 3/2017

Year Published: 2017

Hydrochemical determination of source water contributions to Lake Lungo and Lake Ripasottile (central Italy)

Lake Lungo and Lake Ripasottile are two shallow (4-5 m) lakes located in the Rieti Basin, central Italy, that have been described previously as surface outcroppings of the groundwater table. In this work, the two lakes as well as springs and rivers that represent their potential source waters are characterized physio-chemically and isotopically,...

Archer, Claire; Noble, Paula; Kreamer, David; Piscopo, Vincenzo; Petitta, Marco; Rosen, Michael R.; Poulson, Simon R.; Piovesan, Gianluca; Mensing, Scott
Attribution: Water
Archer, C., Noble, P., Kreamer, D., Piscopo, V., Petitta, M., Rosen, M.R., Poulson, S., Piovesan, G., and Mensing, S., 2016, Hydrochemical determination of source water contributions to Lake Lungo and Lake Ripasottile (central Italy). Journal of Limnology. 10.4081/jlimnol.2016.1576

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

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: 836
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.
two men standing near a well. Truck-mounted rig and well head visible.
2016 (approx.)
JJ Thordsen (USGS) and a wireline operator retrieving downhole vacuum sampler from a characterization well near a CO2 injection well at Citronelle oil field, Alabama.
Water flowing from culvert
2016 (approx.)
Hampton Roads WQMP Image 1. Water flowing from a culvert.
2016 (approx.)
This video will provide a brief history and purpose for one of the oldest streamgages in Indiana. The gage is at the Wabash River at Lafayette, Indiana. The site number is 03335500. This video was produced at the request of the West Lafayette Parks Department where this historic gage is located. A QR code is displayed on an interpretive plaque next to the gage which is located in a high profile...
2016 (approx.)
This video demonstrates how to measure total well depth below land surface using a weighted, graduated steel tape.
Bath Creek, Bath County, VA
2016 (approx.)
Bath Creek, upstream of Blowing Springs Campground, George Washington National Forest, Bath County, VA.
Photo of USGS research boat conducting science on the Great Salt Lake.
2016 (approx.)
USGS scientist Robert Baskin takes a boat out on the Great Salt Lake to conduct research. 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 on January 18, 2017. Baskin is best known for his innovative research on Great Salt Lake, collaborating with the...
Filter Total Items: 350
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. 

USGS
October 17, 2016

A new study offers the most sophisticated analyses to date on how Los Angeles-area groundwater supplies are replenished. The analyses provide water managers with a clearer understanding of the sources and amount of available groundwater in the region – information that is important for planning and management of the vital resource.

Baltimore Harbor Water Wheel (aka “Mr. Trash Wheel”)
October 14, 2016

Online sites will provide the first real-time, user-friendly Inner Harbor water information

Photo of Flooding on Mississippi River in December 2015
October 13, 2016

An assessment of the flooding that occurred in the Meramec River Basin from December 2015–January 2016 is available in a new report from the U.S. Geological Survey. The report includes peak stages and streamflows, historical comparisons and flood-frequency statistics from the record flood.

This picture shows Spring Lake, NC, hit by flooding twice in two weeks.
October 12, 2016

Reporters: Want more information? Please contact Jeanne Robbins, jrobbins@usgs.gov, 919-571-4017 

Photo showing the Great Basin area
October 11, 2016

Large precipitation events that occur about every 10 years are a critical source of recharge for replenishing groundwater resources, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Reclamation.

USGS
October 9, 2016

Reporters: Do you want to accompany a USGS field crew as they measure flooding or retrieve storm-tide sensors?

- In North Carolina, contact Jeanne Robbins, jrobbins@usgs.gov, 919-571-4017 

- In South Carolina, contact John Shelton, jmshelto@usgs.gov, 803-767-5542

- In Georgia contact Brian McCallum, bemccall@usgs.gov, 678- 924-6672

- In Florida contact Richard Kane, rkane@usgs.gov, 813-918-1275

This is a photograph of a storm-tide sensor used by the USGS to measure storm surge.
October 8, 2016

The U.S. Geological Survey is using many forms of technology to track and document Hurricane Matthew’s effects on the eastern seaboard. Here is an in-depth look at one of those tools, the storm-tide sensor.

To learn about storm sensors and see their location, explore the USGS Coastal Change Hazard Portal, or see satellite imagery before and after the storm, visit the USGS Hurricane Matthew page.

USGS
October 6, 2016

As the east coast prepares for Hurricane Matthew's arrival, the U.S. Geological Survey uses advanced models to forecast the coastal impacts Matthew could bring. 

USGS
October 3, 2016

As coastal development along the Gulf Coast continues to expand, tidal saline wetlands could have difficulty adjusting to rising sea levels.