Mission Areas


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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: 147
Boise River near Middleton, Idaho
Date Published: August 18, 2017

STATUS: Active

To meet National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting requirements, the City of Boise will be responsible for collecting fish tissue samples for mercury analysis upstream of and downstream of their wastewater treatment facilities discharging to the lower Boise and Snake Rivers.

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that ultimately makes its...

USGS streamgage
Date Published: August 10, 2017

STATUS: Active

in partnership with the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) and Idaho Water Resource Board (IWRB), we will construct a numerical groundwater-flow model of the Treasure Valley and surrounding area. Resource managers will use the model to simulate potential anthropogenic and climatic effects on groundwater for water-supply planning and management. As part of model...

USGS biologist with rainbow trout from the Big Wood River, Idaho
Date Published: August 8, 2017

STATUS: Active

Blaine County’s population nearly quadrupled from about 5,700 to 22,000 people between 1970 and 2010. Residents and resource managers of the Wood River Valley of south-central Idaho are concerned about the potential effects that population growth and the expected increased demand for water might have on the quantity and quality of the valley’s ground and surface waters....

U.S. Geological Survey and Bureau of Reclamation technicians using radio telemetry equipment to document bull trout migration b
Date Published: August 4, 2017

STATUS: Completed

In 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) listed the bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) as a threatened species. In 2010, the FWS designated critical habitat for the bull trout, including the upper Boise River basin. The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) operates three reservoirs on the upper Boise River for irrigation and flood control. Reclamation and FWS...

Image: Owyhee Canyonlands Streamgage Installation
Date Published: August 4, 2017

STATUS: Active

Several river segments in the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness have been designated as “Wild and Scenic” under the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009. This designation is intended to protect the “outstanding remarkable values” (ORVs) in this area—specifically fish and wildlife habitat, scenic and geological features, and recreational opportunities.

The Bureau...

Microplastics sampling on Lake Mead
Date Published: August 4, 2017

STATUS: Active

There is mounting evidence that microplastics present a significant threat to aquatic organisms. Microplastics – defined as plastic particles less than 5 mm in diameter – come from many different sources, including synthetic textiles, industrial waste products, personal care products, and the breakdown of litter, car tires, and other objects. This study will assess the...

Mercury research in Hells Canyon reservoirs, Idaho and Oregon
Date Published: August 4, 2017

STATUS: Active

The Hells Canyon Complex is a hydroelectric project consisting of three dams located on the Snake River along the Oregon and Idaho border. Elevated concentrations of mercury and methylmercury in the water column, bottom sediments, and biota in this reach have resulted in two of the reservoirs, Brownlee and Hells Canyon, being listed as impaired for mercury by the state of...

Image: Water-Quality Study in Historical Idaho Mining District
Date Published: August 4, 2017

STATUS: Active

Mining of stibnite (antimony sulfide), tungsten, gold, silver, and mercury near the town of Stibnite in central Idaho has left a legacy of trace element contamination in the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River (EFSFSR) and its tributaries. Concentrations of arsenic, antimony, and mercury frequently exceed human health criteria and may impact threatened or...

Image of a new benchmark.
Date Published: June 24, 2017
Status: Active

The southern Chesapeake Bay region is experiencing land subsidence along with rising sea levels, both of which can contribute to coastal flooding. The rates at which these two processes are occurring are not exactly known. Mapping of land elevation change requires ground-truth survey data at multiple locations that are accurate and precise. With the exception of a few CORS sites that have...

Cypress Swamp Egret - Louisiana
Date Published: June 24, 2017

Links to Sources of Water Information

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) investigates the occurrence, quantity, quality, distribution, and movement of surface and underground waters and disseminates the data to the public, State and local governments, public and private utilities, and other Federal agencies involved with managing water resources

The map to the left allows you to...

The USGS collects, analyzes, and distributes data on a wide variety of water-related issues and resources. Much of our data is publicly available through the National Water Information System (NWIS), but additional datasets and analytical tools are also available.

Access NWISWeb
Filter Total Items: 28
Screenshot of the Water Quality Portal
April 12, 2016

Water Quality Portal

The Water Quality Portal integrates and provides access to publicly available water-quality data from databases such as USGS NWIS and BioData, EPA STORET, and USDA-ARS STEWARDS through a single search interface.

Screenshot of National Ground-Water Monitoring Network (NGWMN) data portal
April 11, 2016

National Ground-Water Monitoring Network (NGWMN) Data Portal

The NGWMN Data Portal provides access to groundwater data from multiple, dispersed databases in a web-based mapping application. The Portal contains current and historical data including water levels, water quality, lithology, and well construction.

Scoggins DEM
November 2, 2007

Digital Elevation Model of Scoggins Creek Drainage & Henry Hagg Lake

Digital dataset of surface topology for the Scoggins Creek watershed.

small excerpt of Yosemite Valley topographic map in shades of green and brown
September 26, 2001

Geological Survey of Alabama - Downloadable GIS datasets

Spatial/GIS data sets for Alabama are available numerous spatial data clearinghouses. Spatial/GIS data sets for USGS studies that include Alabama or include parts of Alabama are also available from USGS.

Downloadable GIS Datasets, OGB GIS Datasets, Digital Raster Graphics (DRG), 1:24000 DRG, 1:100000 DRG, 1:250000 DRG, Hazards GIS Data, Hazards Data Water GIS Data, HUC 11 Watersheds

Downloadable spatial data files for exploration and analysis.

Filter Total Items: 25
September 19, 1996

The goals of the NAWQA program are being achieved through ongoing or planned investigations of 59 of the Nation's most important river and aquifer systems, which are referred to as study units. These study units were selected to represent the diverse geography, water resources, and land and water uses of the Nation. The Mobile River Basin is one such study unit, designed to supplement water.

Filter Total Items: 1,524
Year Published: 2017

Evidence of coupled carbon and iron cycling at a hydrocarbon-contaminated site from time lapse magnetic susceptibility

Conventional characterization and monitoring of hydrocarbon (HC) pollution is often expensive and time-consuming. Magnetic susceptibility (MS) has been proposed as an inexpensive, long-term monitoring proxy of the degradation of HC. We acquired repeated down hole MS logging data in boreholes at a HC-contaminated field research site in Bemidji, MN...

Lund, Anders L.; Slater, Lee D.; Atekwana, Estella A.; Ntarlagiannis, Dimitrios; Cozzarelli, Isabelle M.; Bekins, Barbara A.
Attribution: Water
Lund, Anders & Slater, Lee & Atekwana, Estella & Ntarlagiannis, Dimitrios & Cozzarelli, Isabelle & Bekins, Barbara. (2017). Evidence of Coupled Carbon and Iron Cycling at a Hydrocarbon-Contaminated Site from Time Lapse Magnetic Susceptibility. Environmental Science & Technology. 51. . 10.1021/acs.est.7b02155.

Year Published: 2017

Interactive effects of deer exclusion and exotic plant removal on deciduous forest understory communities

Mammalian herbivory and exotic plant species interactions are an important ongoing research topic, due to their presumed impacts on native biodiversity. The extent to which these interactions affect forest understory plant community composition and persistence was the subject of our study. We conducted a 5-year, 2 × 2 factorial experiment in three...

Bourg, Norman; McShea, William J.; Herrmann, Valentine; Stewart, Chad M.
Attribution: Water
Bourg, N.A., McShea, W.J., Herrmann, V. and Stewart, C.M., 2017. Interactive effects of deer exclusion and exotic plant removal on deciduous forest understory communities. AoB Plants 9(5): plx046.

Year Published: 2017

The fascinating and complex dynamics of geyser eruptions

Geysers episodically erupt liquid and vapor. Despite two centuries of scientific study, basic questions persist—why do geysers exist? What determines eruption intervals, durations, and heights? What initiates eruptions? Through monitoring eruption intervals, analyzing geophysical data, taking measurements within geyser conduits, performing...

Hurwitz, Shaul; Manga, Michael
Attribution: Water
Hurwitz, S. and Manga, M., 2017, The Fascinating and Complex Dynamics of Geyser Eruptions, Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 45, 31-59, http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-earth-063016-015605

Year Published: 2017

Detection of diazotrophy in the acetylene-fermenting anaerobe Pelobacter sp. strain SFB93

Acetylene (C2H2) is a trace constituent of the present Earth's oxidizing atmosphere, reflecting a mixture of terrestrial and marine emissions from anthropogenic, biomass-burning, and unidentified biogenic sources. Fermentation of acetylene was serendipitously discovered during C2H2 block assays of N2O reductase, and Pelobacter acetylenicus was...

Akob, Denise M.; Baesman, Shaun; Sutton, John M.; Fierst, Janna L.; Mumford, Adam; Shrestha, Yesha; Poret-Peterson, Amisha T.; Bennett, Stacy; Dunlap, Darren S.; Haase, Karl B.; Oremland, Ronald S.
Attribution: Water
Akob, D. M.; Baesman, S. M.; Sutton, J. M.; Fierst, J. L.; Mumford, A. C.; Shrestha, Y.; Poret-Peterson, A. T.; Bennett, S.; Dunlap, D. S.; Haase, K. B.; Oremland, R. S., (2017) Detection of diazotrophy in the acetylene-fermenting anaerobe Pelobacter sp. strain SFB93. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 83(17): e01198-17, 10.1128/aem.01198-17.

Year Published: 2017

Climate scenarios for the Truckee-Carson River system

In this study, the scenarios ultimately take the form of gridded, daily (maximum and minimum) temperatures and precipitation totals spanning the entire Truckee-Carson River System, from which meteorological inputs to various hydrologic, water-balance and watermanagement models can be extracted by other parts of the Water for the Seasons project...

Dettinger, Michael; Sterle, Kelley; Simpson, Karen; Singletary, Loretta; Fitzgerald, Kelsey; McCarthy, Maureen
Attribution: Water
Dettinger, M.D., Sterle, K., Simpson, K., Singletary, L, McCarthy, M., and Fitzgerald, K., 2017, Climate scenarios for the Truckee—Carson River system: University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Special Publication 17-05, 12 p.

Year Published: 2017

Autotrophic microbial arsenotrophy in arsenic-rich soda lakes

A number of prokaryotes are capable of employing arsenic oxy-anions as either electron acceptors [arsenate; As(V)] or electron donors [arsenite; As(III)] to sustain arsenic-dependent growth (‘arsenotrophy’). A subset of these microorganisms function as either chemoautotrophs or photoautotrophs, whereby they gain sufficient energy from their redox...

Oremland, Ronald S.; Saltikov, Chad W.; Stolz, John F.; Hollibaugh, James T.
Attribution: Water
Oremland, R.S., Saltikov, C.W., Stolz, J.F., Hollibaugh, J.T., 2017, Autotrophic microbial arsenotrophy in arsenic-rich soda lakes. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 364(15), http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/femsle/fnx146

Year Published: 2017

Water quality measurements in San Francisco Bay by the U.S. Geological Survey, 1969–2015

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) maintains a place-based research program in San Francisco Bay (USA) that began in 1969 and continues, providing one of the longest records of water-quality measurements in a North American estuary. Constituents include salinity, temperature, light extinction coefficient, and concentrations of chlorophyll-a,...

Schraga, Tara; Cloern, James E.
Attribution: Water
Schraga, T.S., Cloern, J.E., 2017, Water quality measurements in San Francisco Bay by the U.S. Geological Survey, 1969-2015, Scientific Data, 4, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/sdata.2017.98

Year Published: 2017

Managed aquifer recharge through off-season irrigation in agricultural regions

Options for increasing reservoir storage in developed regions are limited and prohibitively expensive. Projected increases in demand call for new long-term water storage to help sustain agriculture, municipalities, industry, and ecological services. Managed aquifer recharge (MAR) is becoming an integral component of water resources around the...

Niswonger, Richard; Morway, Eric; Triana, Enrique; Huntington, Justin L.
Attribution: Water
Niswonger, R. G., E. D. Morway,E. Triana, and J. L. Huntington (2017),Managed aquifer recharge throughoff-season irriga tion in agriculturalregions, Water Resour. Res., 53, 6970–6992, doi:10.1002/2017WR020458.

Year Published: 2017

Porosity and pore size distribution in a sedimentary rock: Implications for the distribution of chlorinated solvents

Characterizing properties of the rock matrix that control retention and release of chlorinated solvents is essential in evaluating the extent of contamination and the application of remediation technologies in fractured rock. Core samples from seven closely spaced boreholes in a mudstone subject to trichloroethene (TCE) contamination were analyzed...

Shapiro, Allen M.; Evans, Chrsitopher E.; Hayes, Erin C.
Attribution: Water
Shapiro, A.M., Evans, C.E., Hayes, E.C., 2017, Porosity and pore size distribution in a sedimentary rock: Implications for the distribution of chlorinated solvents, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, v. 203, 70-84.

Year Published: 2017

Spatial and temporal variability in benthic invertebrate assemblages in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon

Upper Klamath Lake (UKL) in southern Oregon has experienced declines in water quality due to excessive nutrient loading. This has led to annual cyanobacterial blooms, primarily of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA). Benthic invertebrates are important food resources for benthic feeding fishes; however, they can increase autochthonous...

Stauffer-Olsen, Natalie J.; Carter, James L.; Fend, Steven V.
Attribution: Water

Year Published: 2017

Devils Hole, Nevada—A photographic story of a restricted subaqueous environment

This report presents selected photographic images taken by the author during U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research into paleoclimatology and geochemistry in Devils Hole cavern during 1984 to 1993 in cooperation with the National Park Service. The unaltered suite of photographs was prepared by the USGS dive team as an aid to assist nondiving...

Hoffman, Ray J.
Attribution: Water
Hoffman, R.J., 2017, Devils Hole, Nevada—A photographic story of a restricted subaqueous environment: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2017–1058, 34 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20171058.

Year Published: 2017

A method for addressing differences in concentrations of fipronil and three degradates obtained by two different laboratory methods

In October 2012, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began measuring the concentration of the pesticide fipronil and three of its degradates (desulfinylfipronil, fipronil sulfide, and fipronil sulfone) by a new laboratory method using direct aqueous-injection liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (DAI LC–MS/MS). This method replaced the...

Crawford, Charles G.; Martin, Jeffrey D.
Attribution: Water
Crawford, C.G., and Martin, J.D., 2017, A method for addressing differences in concentrations of fipronil and three degradates obtained by two different laboratory methods: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2017–1056, 26 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20171056.

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: 808
Two technicians in a cablecar over a river, with an instrument hanging below them
2017 (approx.)
USGS technicians preparing for a streamflow measurement by lowering an acoustic Doppler current profiler from a cable way on the American River near Fair Oaks, California.
Cikli i Ujit për Fëmijë - The Water Cycle, Albanian
November 1, 2017
Cikli i Ujit për Fëmijë Shërbimi Gjeologjik i SHBA-ve dhe Organizata e Kombeve të Bashkuara për Bujqësinë dhe Ushqimin (FAO) kanë krijuar një diagramë të ciklit të ujit për shkollat. Ti mund të mendosh se çdo pikë shiu që bie nga qielli, ose çdo gotë uji që pini, është e re fare, por në fakt ka qënë aty gjithmonë dhe është pjesë e ciklit të ujit. You may think that every drop of rain that falls...
Bar chart showing the distribution of water on, in, and above the Earth.
October 31, 2017
The World's Water - Distribution of Earth's Water The Earth is a watery place. But just how much water exists on, in, and above our planet? About 71 percent of the Earth's surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth's water. Water also exists in the air as water vapor , in rivers and lakes , in icecaps and glaciers , in the ground as soil moisture and in aquifers...
Vattnets Kretslopp - The Water Cycle, Swedish
October 12, 2017
Vattnets Kretslopp - The Water Cycle, Swedish Vad är vattencykeln? Jag svarar utan att tveka att - det är jag! Vattencykeln beskriver förekomsten och rörelsen av vatten inuti, utanpå och utanför jordytan. Jordens vatten rör sig hela tiden, och byter ständigt skepnad, från flytande form till ånga till is och tillbaka igen. Vattencykeln har fungerat på detta vis i flera miljarder år och allt liv på...
Schéma obehu vody - The Water Cycle, Slovak
October 12, 2017
Kolobeh Vody - The Water Cycle, Slovak Mohli by ste si myslieť, že každá kvapka dažďa, ktorá spadne z oblohy alebo každý pohár vody, ktorý vypijete, je z čisto novej vody. V skutočnosti je to ale stále tá istá voda, ktorá tu je a bola vždy a ktorá je trvalou súčasťou kolobehu vody! You may think that every drop of rain that falls from the sky, or each glass of water that you drink, is brand new,...
2017 (approx.)
Before a hurricane, USGS Scientists undertake a data collection effort of a grand scale. They install a temporary mobile network of sensors along the coasts to collect additional data on the intensity of storm surge, one of the most dangerous elements of a hurricane. This effort provides critical information that allows various USGS partners and emergency responders to make better informed...
2017 (approx.)
Borehole nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is an emerging geophysical method being applied to hydrogeology investigations. NMR is a quantitative geophysical method that can be used to make in situ assessments of porosity, water content, mobile and immobile water fraction, and estimates of permeability. While borehole NMR is commonly used in the oil and gas industry, it is only recently that NMR...
Lake Erie algal bloom
2017 (approx.)
Landsat satellites captured this image of Lake Erie during a harmful algal bloom event.
A USGS hydrologic technician installs a Rapid-Deployment Gauge on a bridge in Norfolk, Virginia.
2017 (approx.)
Jim Duda, USGS hydrologic technician, installs a Rapid-Deployment Gauge near the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Virginia, to monitor elevated water levels caused by Hurricane Jose. An RDG is a fully functional streamgage designed to be quickly deployed for real-time data monitoring of a stream or river in emergency situations. RDGs are indispensable tools used for flood forecasting by augmenting...
USGS scientists collect a sediment sample from Brownlee Reservoir
September 28, 2017
Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and Idaho Power Company collected water, sediment, and biological samples from Brownlee Reservoir as part of an ongoing, cooperative study of mercury cycling in the Hells Canyon complex of reservoirs along the Snake River bordering Idaho and Oregon. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is also a partner in the study.
Hydro techs from the New Mexico Water Science Center perform a well integrity test
September 19, 2017
On September 19th, 2017 staff from the USGS NM WSC Albuquerque and Las Cruces offices visited a Climate Response Network (CRN) well just on the east side of the Organ Mountains outside of Las Cruces to receive training on integrity testing groundwater wells. What is integrity testing? Integrity testing involves adding a slug of clean water to a well and measuring how fast the water comes up then...
Filter Total Items: 344
Low streamflow on the Arkansas River at Syracuse, Kansas.
June 26, 2017

Human activity, such as groundwater pumping, land management, reservoir operations and urbanization, has a measurable effect on streamflows in Kansas locally, regionally and statewide, according to a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey, done in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

A submarine-ground-water-discharge site at Florida State University's Marine Lab at just after sunset
June 20, 2017

Larger-than-average low and no oxygen area may affect the region’s shrimp fisheries

High Plains aquifer water-level changes, predevelopment to 2015
June 16, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey has released a new report detailing changes of groundwater levels in the High Plains aquifer. The report presents water-level change data in the aquifer for two separate periods: from 1950 – the time prior to significant groundwater irrigation development – to 2015, and from 2013 to 2015.

Image of a red dye study conducted in the Brandon Road Lock on the Des Plaines River near Joliet, Illinois, in 2015.
June 6, 2017

U.S. Geological Survey scientists will inject a harmless, bright red fluorescent dye into the auxiliary lock at Locks and Dam 14 on the Mississippi River near Pleasant Valley, Iowa, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, weather permitting. If needed, a backup date is scheduled for June 27, 2017.  

Image: Vegetation Drought
June 5, 2017

The U. S. Geological Survey is poised to bring a dynamic array of science and tools to help decision-makers manage and offset effects of increased drought across the United States, according to a drought plan report released today.

Hurricane Irene, satellite view, NASA
June 1, 2017

Scientists work in the field before, during and after landfall to improve forecasting and recovery.



Two men collecting groundwater samples at a public well in the middle of a grassy field in Texas
May 31, 2017

Decades or longer may be needed to fully assess the effects of unconventional oil and gas production on the quality of groundwater used for drinking water in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas

Image of first page of Western Lake Erie Water Monitoring Summary
May 28, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is measuring streamflow and collecting nutrient and sediment samples at stream gages in the Western Lake Erie Basin in Northwest Ohio.  

Housing structure for USGS Stream gage with Clear Fork Mohican River in the background
May 11, 2017

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) operates a network of real-time streamgages that continually record stage and streamflow every 15 to 60 minutes. 

A map of Pennsylvania indicating radon concentrations of water samples collected during a multi-year groundwater radon study. Ma
May 11, 2017

A new U.S. Geological Survey study has discovered high levels of radon in wells across certain areas of Pennsylvania.