National Water Quality Program

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The National Water Quality Program 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.

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Featured: Deciphering the U.S. urban stream pesticide signature

Featured: Deciphering the U.S. urban stream pesticide signature

new USGS study reports that 16 dissolved pesticides were consistently detected in small streams in 16 urban centers across five regions of the United States.

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Featured: Predicting levels of cyanotoxins from real-time measurements

Featured: Predicting levels of cyanotoxins from real-time measurements

A new study successfully predicts when mixtures of the toxins produced by these blooms in Kabetogama Lake, Voyageurs National Park, will exceed drinking-water guidelines.

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News

Date published: September 1, 2021

USGS uses watershed modeling to assess surface-water nutrient impairment across the Pacific Northwest and California

The region-wide, reach-scale results from a new study provide two new tools that might help water-quality managers. One is an estimate of the total contribution from point and diffuse sources to the loads delivered to nutrient-impaired water bodies. The other is a method to assess potential nutrient impairment based on estimated warm-weather dissolved oxygen and pH conditions. 

Date published: July 6, 2021

Media Alert: USGS Dye Tracing Study on the Kansas River to Aid in Protecting Water Supplies

U.S. Geological Survey scientists and partners will inject a harmless, bright red fluorescent dye into the Kansas River at Eudora July 7-9, weather permitting.

Date published: May 24, 2021

Potential toxicity of pesticides to aquatic life in U.S. rivers is widespread

new USGS study of pesticides in U.S. rivers and streams reports that, on average, 17 pesticides were detected at least once at the 74 river and stream sites sampled 12 to 24 times per year during 2013–2017. Herbicides were detected much more frequently than insecticides and fungicides.

Publications

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Year Published: 2021

Groundwater-quality and select quality-control data from the National Water-Quality Assessment Project, January 2017 through December 2019

Groundwater-quality environmental data were collected from 983 wells as part of the National Water-Quality Assessment Project of the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Program and are included in this report. The data were collected from six types of well networks: principal aquifer study networks, which are used to assess the quality...

Kingsbury, James A.; Bexfield, Laura M.; Arnold, Terri; Musgrove, MaryLynn; Erickson, Melinda L.; Degnan, James R.; Tesoriero, Anthony J.; Lindsey, Bruce D.; Belitz, Kenneth
Kingsbury, J.A., Bexfield, L.M., Arnold, T., Musgrove, M., Erickson, M.L., Degnan, J.R., Tesoriero, A.J., Lindsey, B.D., and Belitz, K., 2021, Groundwater-quality and select quality-control data from the National Water-Quality Assessment Project, January 2017 through December 2019: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1136, 97 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ds1136.

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Year Published: 2021

Three-dimensional distribution of residence time metrics in the glaciated United States using metamodels trained on general numerical models

Residence time distribution (RTD) is a critically important characteristic of groundwater flow systems; however, it cannot be measured directly. RTD can be inferred from tracer data with analytical models (few parameters) or with numerical models (many parameters). The second approach permits more variation in system properties but is used less...

Starn, J. Jeffrey; Kauffman, Leon J.; Carlson, Carl S.; Reddy, James E.; Fienen, Michael N.

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Year Published: 2020

Pesticide mixtures show potential toxicity to aquatic life in U.S. streams, water years 2013-2017

During water years (WY) 2013–2017, the U.S. Geological Survey, National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project, sampled the National Water Quality Network – Rivers and Streams (NWQN) year-round and reported on 221 pesticides at 72 sites across the United States in agricultural, developed, and mixed land use watersheds. The Pesticide Toxicity...

Covert, S. Alex.; Shoda, Megan E.; Stackpoole, Sarah M.; Stone, Wesley W.