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 Publications

Featured Publications

Intensive studies in agricultural areas provide insight into how agricultural activities have altered water flow and chemical transport and how nutrients affect algal and invertebrate communities in agricultural streams.

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News

Date published: March 21, 2019

Massive changes over last 50 years in human influences that affect water quality

Some of the major human influences on water quality, in particular the ways we use land, water, and chemicals, have undergone dramatic changes over the last five decades, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water Quality Program. Patterns of urbanization, chemical use, and...

Date published: March 15, 2019

Domestic groundwater wells in the eastern and southeastern U.S. at risk of lead contamination

About one-third of more than 8,300 wells tested across the U.S. had groundwater with chemical characteristics that could cause lead, if present in plumbing, to leach into tap water at levels above the EPA Action Level, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Program. These...

Date published: March 6, 2019

Pharmaceuticals and hormones few and at low concentrations in groundwater, USGS scientists find

The topic of pharmaceuticals and hormones in drinking water gets people’s attention, but if that drinking water is pumped from a well, those chemicals are less likely to be present, according to a new national study by the U.S. Geological Survey and published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Publications

Year Published: 2018

An exploratory Bayesian network for estimating the magnitudes and uncertainties of selected water-quality parameters at streamgage 03374100 White River at Hazleton, Indiana, from partially observed data

An exploratory discrete Bayesian network (BN) was developed to assess the potential of this type of model for estimating the magnitudes and uncertainties of an arbitrary subset of unmeasured water-quality parameters given the measured complement of parameters historically measured at a U.S. Geological Survey streamgage. Water-quality data for 27...

Holtschlag, David J.
Holtschlag, D.J., 2018, An exploratory Bayesian network for estimating the magnitudes and uncertainties of selected water-quality parameters at streamgage 03374100 White River at Hazleton, Indiana, from partially observed data: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2018–5053, 30 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20185053.

Year Published: 2018

Understanding the influence of nutrients on stream ecosystems in agricultural landscapes

Sustaining the quality of the Nation’s water resources and the health of our diverse ecosystems depends on the availability of sound water-resources data and information to develop effective, science-based policies. Effective management of water resources also brings more certainty and efficiency to important economic sectors. Taken together,...

Munn, Mark D.; Frey, Jeffrey W.; Tesoriero, Anthony J.; Black, Robert W.; Duff, John H.; Lee, Kathy E.; Maret, Terry R.; Mebane, Christopher A.; Waite, Ian R.; Zelt, Ronald B.
Munn, M.D., Frey, J.W., Tesoriero, A.J., Black, R.W., Duff, J.H., Lee, Kathy, Maret, T.R., Mebane, C.A., Waite, I.R., and Zelt, R.B., 2018, Understanding the influence of nutrients on stream ecosystems in agricultural landscapes: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1437, 80 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1437.

Year Published: 2018

General introduction for the “National Field Manual for the Collection of Water-Quality Data”

BackgroundAs part of its mission, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collects data to assess the quality of our Nation’s water resources. A high degree of reliability and standardization of these data are paramount to fulfilling this mission. Documentation of nationally accepted methods used by USGS personnel serves to maintain consistency and...

U.S. Geological Survey, 2018, General introduction for the “National Field Manual for the Collection of Water-Quality Data” (ver. 1.1, June 2018): U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 9, chap. A0, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/tm9A0. [Supersedes USGS Techniques and Methods, book 9, chap. A0, version 1.0.]