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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Complicated groundwater drill rigs mounted on big trucks and their crew.
September 24, 2016

The National Water-Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA) provides an understanding of water-quality conditions; whether conditions are getting better or worse over time; and how natural features and human activities affect those conditions. Regional and national assessments are possible because of a consistent study design and uniform methods of data collection and analysis. Monitoring data are...

Multiple Petri dishes with various water samples monitoring showing color differences for antibiotic resistance.
September 24, 2016

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Michigan Bacteriological Research Laboratory (MI-BaRL) conducts research on antibiotic-resistant bacteria and their genes. We have concentrated our studies on antibiotic-resistant bacteria of human-health concern, including vancomycin-resistant enterococci, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (...

Water Quality and a Petri dish with blue organisms.
September 24, 2016

Recreational water and industrial discharges are regulated by other federal and state agencies across the country. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Michigan Bacteriological Research Laboratory (MI-BaRL) conducts studies to understand the fate and transport of fecal indicator bacteria in surface and groundwater to aid state and federal partners. A variety of standardized protocols are used to...

Illustration of Relational Chart for Microbial Ecology
September 24, 2016

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Michigan Bacteriological Research Laboratory (MI-BaRL) conducts ecological studies on the structure and function of eubacterial and archeal communities in the environment. Studies of this type give us basic information about the composition and functionality of different microbial communities and allow us to investigate the effects that natural and...

Collage of a drainage culvert and cows at a feedlot.
September 24, 2016

It is often important to understand the source of fecal indicator bacteria, pathogens, or chemicals that impair the normal use of water. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria and their genes, specific bacterial pathogens (such as E. coli O157:H7 which is primarily associated with cattle), and host-associated bacterial genes (such as human or animal specific Bacteroides genes), can be used to evaluate...

View of Silver Lake and Sand Dunes, Michigan with sunlight reflecting off of lake.
September 24, 2016

Recently, elevated chlorophyll-a concentrations were found related to persistent algal blooms on Silver Lake in Oceana County, MI.  Elevated chlorophyll-a concentrations, high phosphorus concentrations during summer months, as well as a decrease in water clarity indicated potential accelerated eutrophication processes during the last two years, and underscore a need to characterize water...

Monitoring set-up at the watersheds site which includes boards and such to direct water flow to drainage.
September 24, 2016

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was established to accelerate ecosystem restoration in the Great Lakes by confronting the most serious threats to the region, such as nonpoint source pollution, toxic sediments, and invasive species. Three Priority Watersheds have been targeted by the Regional Working Group's Phosphorus Reduction Work Group (Fox/Green Bay, Saginaw, and Maumee)...

River with blue reflection, in late summer, leaves just starting to turn from green to gold.
September 24, 2016

In support of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Water Chemistry Monitoring Project, the USGS Michigan Water Science Center has been collecting long-term water quality data for Michigan's rivers and streams. Water samples are collected 4 to 12 times a year for selected nutrients, trace metals, sediment, and other water-quality constituents. Intensive sampling (12...

Girls getting a glass of water at a well pump at The Tollgate House, Meridian Historical Village, Okemos, MI
September 22, 2016

The USGS compiles water use information by State including estimated amounts, sources, and categories of use every five years since 1950. Sources include surface water and groundwater, both fresh and saline. Categories include public supply, domestic, livestock, industrial, irrigation, and thermoelectric power. These data provide a source of information about regional and national trends in...

USGS Hydrologist examining water collection using specialized equipment.
September 22, 2016

The USGS, in cooperation with the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, will analyze water sample results from 20 Lansing area wells. The objective of this study is to investigate well characteristics and other factors that may influence the susceptibility of drinking water-supply wells to contamination by contaminants of emerging concern. This information can be used by Lansing and other...

Mobile River Basin Study
September 22, 2016

The Mobile River Basin in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee is one of the 59 study units that are part of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. The long-term goals of this program are to describe the status and trends in the quality of a large, representative part of the Nation's surface- and ground-water resources, and to provide a...

Bridge over river in late summer, trees just starting to change to fall colors.
September 21, 2016

The USGS implemented the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program in 1991 to develop long-term consistent and comparable information on streams, rivers, groundwater, and aquatic systems in support of national, regional, State, and local information needs and decisions related to water-quality management and policy.

Explore new publications and highlighted collections.

Filter Total Items: 1,288
Groundwater quality in the Valley and Ridge and Piedmont and Blue Ridge carbonate-rock aquifers, eastern United States
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.

Lindsey, Bruce; Belitz, Kenneth
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.
Groundwater quality in the Southeastern Coastal Plain aquifer system, southeastern United States
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.

Barlow, Jeannie; Lindsey, Bruce; Belitz, Kenneth
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.
Final Laurentide ice-sheet deglaciation and Holocene climate-sea level change
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.
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
Implementation and evaluation of a monthly water balance model over the US on an 800 m grid
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.
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
Crustal permeability
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 – is...

Gleeson, T., and Ingebritsen, S.E., eds., 2016, Crustal Permeability: Chichester, AGU/Wiley Blackwell, 451 p.
Multireaction equilibrium geothermometry: A sensitivity analysis using data from the Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, USA
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
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
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.

Tomašek, Ines; Horwell, Claire J.; Damby, David; Barošová, Hana; Geers, Christoph; Petri-Fink, Alke; Rothen-Rutishauser, Barbara; Clift, Martin J. D.
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
Estimating natural monthly streamflows in California and the likelihood of anthropogenic modification
Year Published: 2016

Estimating natural monthly streamflows in California and the likelihood of anthropogenic modification

Because natural patterns of streamflow are a fundamental property of the health of streams, there is a critical need to quantify the degree to which human activities have modified natural streamflows. A requirement for assessing streamflow modification in a given stream is a reliable estimate of flows expected in the absence of human influences...

Carlisle, Daren M.; Wolock, David M.; Howard, Jeannette K.; Grantham, Theodore E.; Fesenmyer, Kurt; Wieczorek, Michael
Carlisle, D.M., Wolock, D.M., Howard, J.K., Grantham, T.E., Fesenmyer, Kurt, and Wieczorek, Michael, 2016, Estimating natural monthly streamflows in California and the likelihood of anthropogenic modification: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1189, 27 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161189.
Climate variability and extremes, interacting with nitrogen storage, amplify eutrophication risk
Year Published: 2016

Climate variability and extremes, interacting with nitrogen storage, amplify eutrophication risk

Despite 30 years of basin-wide nutrient-reduction efforts, severe hypoxia continues to be observed in the Chesapeake Bay. Here we demonstrate the critical influence of climate variability, interacting with accumulated nitrogen (N) over multidecades, on Susquehanna River dissolved nitrogen (DN) loads, known precursors of the hypoxia in the Bay.

Lee, Minjin; Shevliakova, Elena; Malyshev, Sergey; Milly, P.C.D.; Jaffe, Peter R.
An experimental study of the role of subsurface plumbing on geothermal discharge
Year Published: 2016

An experimental study of the role of subsurface plumbing on geothermal discharge

In order to better understand the diverse discharge styles and eruption intervals observed at geothermal features, we performed three series of laboratory experiments with differing plumbing geometries. A single, straight conduit that connects a hot water bath (flask) to a vent (funnel) can originate geyser-like periodic eruptions, continuous...

Namiki, Atsuko; Ueno, Yoshinori; Hurwitz, Shaul; Manga, Michael; Munoz-Saez, Carolina; Murphy, Fred
Climate change and the Delta
Year Published: 2016

Climate change and the Delta

Anthropogenic climate change amounts to a rapidly approaching, “new” stressor in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta system. In response to California’s extreme natural hydroclimatic variability, complex water-management systems have been developed, even as the Delta’s natural ecosystems have been largely devastated. Climate change is projected to...

Dettinger, Michael; Anderson, Jamie; Anderson, Michael L.; Brown, Larry R.; Cayan, Daniel; Maurer, Edwin P.
Dettinger, M., Anderson, J., Anderson, M., Brown, L., Cayan, D., and Maurer, E., 2016, Climate change and the Delta: San Francisco Estuary & Watershed Science, 26 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.15447/sfews.2016v14iss3art5
U.S. national categorical mapping of building heights by block group from Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data
Year Published: 2016

U.S. national categorical mapping of building heights by block group from Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data

This dataset is a categorical mapping of estimated mean building heights, by Census block group, in shapefile format for the conterminous United States. The data were derived from the NASA Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, which collected “first return” (top of canopy and buildings) radar data at 30-m resolution in February, 2000 aboard the Space...

Falcone, James

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
October 2016 (approx.)
In this video we will outline the process of entering the starting edge information in the SonTek RSSL software. Note: Use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only, and does not imply endorsement by the USGS. For additional videos in this series, visit the following link: https://www2.usgs.gov/humancapital/ecd/hydrotube/hydrotube-ADCP.html
October 2016 (approx.)
In this video, we will outline the process of setting up an open water measurement in the TRDI SxS Pro software. Note: Use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only, and does not imply endorsement by the USGS. For additional videos in this series, visit the following link: https://www2.usgs.gov/humancapital/ecd/hydrotube/hydrotube-ADCP.html
October 2016 (approx.)
In this video we will demonstrate how to enter ending edge information in the SonTek RSSL software. Note: Use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only, and does not imply endorsement by the USGS. For additional videos in this series, visit the following link: https://www2.usgs.gov/humancapital/ecd/hydrotube/hydrotube-ADCP.html
October 2016 (approx.)
In this video we will outline the process of collecting an under ice station in the SonTek RSSL software. Note: Use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only, and does not imply endorsement by the USGS. For additional videos in this series, visit the following link: https://www2.usgs.gov/humancapital/ecd/hydrotube/hydrotube-ADCP.html
October 2016 (approx.)
Along the Atlantic Coast, a 2000+ ft deep hole has been drilled by the USGS to assess the issues of groundwater pumping, relative sea-level rise, and land subsidence. This video shows the drilling of the first extensometer to measure land subsidence in the North Atlantic Coastal Plain in 30+ years. Land subsidence has been observed at various locations in the southern Chesapeake Bay region at...
October 2016 (approx.)
In this video, we will review the process of setting up a connection between an ADCP and the SonTek RSSL software. Note: Use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only, and does not imply endorsement by the USGS. For additional videos in this series, visit the following link: https://www2.usgs.gov/humancapital/ecd/hydrotube/hydrotube-ADCP.html
October 2016 (approx.)
In this video we will outline the process of importing a SonTek RSSL measurement into SVMobile. Note: Use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only, and does not imply endorsement by the USGS. For additional videos in this series, visit the following link: https://www2.usgs.gov/humancapital/ecd/hydrotube/hydrotube-ADCP.html
October 2016 (approx.)
In this video we will outline the process of accounting for open water flow angles in the SonTek RSSL software. Note: Use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only, and does not imply endorsement by the USGS. For additional videos in this series, visit the following link: https://www2.usgs.gov/humancapital/ecd/hydrotube/hydrotube-ADCP.html
October 2016 (approx.)
In this video we will highlight the important data quality indicators in the SonTek RSSL software. Note: Use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only, and does not imply endorsement by the USGS. For additional videos in this series, visit the following link: https://www2.usgs.gov/humancapital/ecd/hydrotube/hydrotube-ADCP.html
October 2016 (approx.)
In this video, we will outline the process of setting up an under ice measurement in the TRDI SxS Pro software. Note: Use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only, and does not imply endorsement by the USGS. For additional videos in this series, visit the following link: https://www2.usgs.gov/humancapital/ecd/hydrotube/hydrotube-ADCP.html
Flowing stream passing a streamgage with swirling leaves in the water
October 20, 2016
A beautiful capture of a streamgage at Bunnell Brook near Burlington, CT. A weir structure controls the height of the water, so a stable relation between stream stage and flow can be maintained. The gage house is the concrete structure in the photo, and has been used to collect streamflow data since 1931. Recent drought conditions have reduced the flow to a trickle, and daily streamflows in...
View of the Rio Brazos river with green trees and blue sky as the backdrop.
October 17, 2016
Hydrologic technician Lindsay Hastings took this photo of the Rio Brazos near Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico during her first field trip as a streamgager with the New Mexico Water Science Center. Did you know that New Mexico was the birth place of streamgaging? The USGS began collecting streamflow information in 1889 when the first streamgage was established on the Rio Grande in New Mexico, about 80...
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Photo of scientists conducting water chemistry tests for the San Pedro River aquifer. 
December 20, 2016

For the first time, information about the San Pedro River Aquifer is now available from both the U.S. and Mexico in a new, collaborative report issued from the International Boundary and Water Commission, the Mexican National Water Commission, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Universities of Arizona and Sonora.

USGS streamgage
December 19, 2016

10 New Streamgages Installed to Help Manage the Valuable Water Resources

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.