William L Cunningham

William (Bill) L. Cunningham is Director of the USGS Water Mission Area Earth System Processes Division, where he oversees USGS hydrologic process research and development. Bill also serves as USGS Senior Science Advisor for Groundwater, providing leadership in the development of techniques for the collection, analysis, and interpretation of groundwater data and information across the Nation.


William (Bill) L. Cunningham is Director of the Earth System Processes Division (ESPD) of the USGS Water Resources Mission Area. As Director, Bill oversees over 120 USGS scientists actively engaged in hydrologic process studies, research, and development across the Nation.

Bill has also served as the USGS Senior Science Advisor for Groundwater since 2012, providing leadership across the USGS in the development of techniques for the collection, analysis, and interpretation of groundwater data.

Prior to his current position as Director of ESPD, Bill served in the USGS Water Mission Area Office of Groundwater, first as Assistant Chief beginning in 2000 and then as Chief from 2012 until closure of the Office at the end of FY2017. Through his tenure with the Office of Groundwater, Bill provided leadership in groundwater science inside and outside the USGS. The Office of Groundwater was responsible for developing tools and methods (including MODFLOW) for the USGS operational program, transferring technology to USGS groundwater data and investigative activities throughout the Nation, providing a system of quality controls to assure the technical excellence of groundwater field programs, and providing national direction and program coordination for USGS groundwater science. Bill also oversaw the USGS program for national assessments of groundwater availability in the principal aquifers of the United States.

Since 2007 Bill has served as Co-Chair of the federal Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI) Subcommittee on Ground Water. As part of this work, Bill has provided leadership on the development and implementation of a National Ground-Water Monitoring Network to aggregate groundwater data from local, State, and Federal organizations. Bill coordinates the USGS-hosted online portal for the National Ground-Water Monitoring Network, launched in 2009, as it continues to grow and include additional data providers.  Since 2016 Bill has served as Chair, U.S. National Committee for the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme.  He has been Director on the National Ground Water Association Scientists and Engineers Section Board (2014-2017), and a member of the Geological Society of America Hydrogeology Division Management Board (2016 to present).

Previously Bill served in a variety of positions within the USGS, first as a Hydrologic Field Assistant in the Ohio District in 1988, and later as Project Chief, Unit Leader, Groundwater Specialist, Investigations Section Chief, and acting Regional Groundwater Specialist, in three USGS offices.