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: 88
USGS Hydrologist working in winter on frozen river collecting samples.
September 21, 2016

As part of the USGS National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program the USGS MIWSC operates a stream gage and routinely collects water quality samples at the Clinton River at Sterling Heights, MI. station. Water is analyzed for sediment, nutrients, major ions, and a suite of 271 different pesticides. Information obtained...

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...

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...

Learn about water at the USGS Water Science School
August 10, 2016

Click on the "Science" tab to see a list of USGS sites that will assist you in your water-learning experience....

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.

Explore new publications and highlighted collections.

Filter Total Items: 1,405
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.
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
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
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.
Data on annual total nitrogen loads and watershed characteristics used to develop a method to estimate the total nitrogen loads in small streams
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
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
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
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.
Agricultural pesticide use estimates for the USGS National Water Quality Network, 1992-2014
Year Published: 2016

Agricultural pesticide use estimates for the USGS National Water Quality Network, 1992-2014

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 (NWQP). The NWQN represents the consolidation of four historical national networks: the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project, the USGS...

Baker, Nancy T.
Nancy T. Baker, 2016, Agricultural Pesticide Use Estimates for the USGS National Water Quality Network, 1992-2014: U.S. Geological Survey Data Release, https://dx.doi.org/10.5066/F7FF3QHP
New organic reference materials for hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen stable isotope-ratio measurements: caffeines, n-alkanes, fatty acid methyl esters, glycines, L-valines, polyethylenes, and oils
Year Published: 2016

New organic reference materials for hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen stable isotope-ratio measurements: caffeines, n-alkanes, fatty acid methyl esters, glycines, L-valines, polyethylenes, and oils

An international project developed, quality-tested, and determined isotope−δ values of 19 new organic reference materials (RMs) for hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen stable isotope-ratio measurements, in addition to analyzing pre-existing RMs NBS 22 (oil), IAEA-CH-7 (polyethylene foil), and IAEA-600 (caffeine). These new RMs enable users to normalize...

Schimmelmann, Arndt; Qi, Haiping; Coplen, Tyler B.; Brand, Willi A.; Fong, Jon; Meier-Augenstein, Wolfram; Kemp, Helen F.; Toman, Blaza; Ackermann, Annika; Assonov, Sergey; Aerts-Bijma, Anita; Brejcha, Ramona; Chikaraishi, Yoshito; Darwish, Tamim; Elsner, Martin; Gehre, Matthias; Geilmann, Heike; Gröning, Manfred; Hélie, Jean-François; Herrero-Martín, Sara; Meijer, Harro A.J.; Sauer, Peter E.; Sessions, Alex L.; Werner, Roland A.
Watershed boundaries for the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Network
Year Published: 2016

Watershed boundaries for the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Network

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 (NWQP). The NWQN represents the consolidation of four historical national networks: the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project, the USGS...

Baker, Nancy T.
Baker, N.T., 2016, Watershed Boundaries for the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Network: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F7SF2TBD.

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: 680
USGS streamgage
November 1, 2016
USGS streamgage 13210810, Fifteen Mile Creek near Middleton, Idaho, is one of 10 streamgages the USGS has installed on Treasure Valley drains in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Water Resources. Data from these streamgages will be incorporated into a groundwater-flow model of the Treasure Valley aquifer system.
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 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.)
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 briefly review how to enable the RiverSurveyor Stationary Live software for field operation, enabling it for use. 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 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 outline the process of setting up a measurement using 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 outline the process of editing vertical information using 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 entering manual station 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 accounting for under ice 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
Filter Total Items: 303
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.