National Water Quality Program

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Date published: April 21, 2021

New study predicts levels of algal bloom toxins from readily available measurements

Emerald-green harmful algal blooms have become an all-too-familiar summertime sight in many U.S. lakes and reservoirs. 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.

Date published: April 2, 2021

The Quality of Our Groundwater—Progress on a National Survey

A U.S. Geological Survey study of groundwater quality across the nation that began in 2013 now includes water-quality information for 18 of the most heavily used aquifers in the nation.

Date published: March 4, 2021

Homing in on sources and yields of nitrogen and phosphorus throughout the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin

A new USGS study estimates total nitrogen (N) and total phosphorus (P) yields from catchments throughout the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin, which drains about 41% of the conterminous United States.

Date published: February 18, 2021

Chemical mixtures are common in small streams in the U.S.

Mixtures of organic chemicals are ubiquitous in small U.S. streams, reports a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. In many streams the mixtures could be affecting stream organisms.

Date published: February 11, 2021

Lithium in U.S. Groundwater

A new USGS study reports that about 45% of public-supply wells and about 37% of U.S. domestic supply wells have concentrations of lithium that could present a potential human-health risk.

Date published: February 8, 2021

Decreased flow projected for Southwest streams by end of century

Streamflow in the Southwestern U.S. is projected to decrease by as much as 36–80% by the end of this century, reports a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. Decreases of this magnitude would challenge our ability to meet future water demand in this region and could jeopardize compliance with interstate and international water-...

Date published: January 21, 2021

Strontium in U.S. Groundwater Used for Drinking-Water Source

A new USGS study reports that about 2.3 percent of drinking-water wells in the U.S. have concentrations of strontium at levels that present a potential human health risk. These wells provide water for an estimated 2.3 million people.

Date published: January 19, 2021

New 3-D models predict pH conditions throughout the glacial aquifer system

A new 3-D model predicts pH in groundwater at all depths across the 25-state span of the glacial aquifer system, reports an article by the USGS. The glacial aquifer system provides more water—about 2.6 billion gallons per day—for domestic and public supplies than any other aquifer in the United States.

Date published: January 4, 2021

New USGS study identifies key factors affecting nitrate concentrations in stream base flow in Chesapeake Bay watershed

A new USGS study has identified factors that contribute to high nitrate in base flow in streams flowing into Chesapeake Bay. Land use, organic carbon in soils, and geology were among the most important factors affecting nitrate in stream base flow, based on data collected at 156 stream sites.

Date published: December 15, 2020

Pesticides and their degradation products common in groundwater but at low concentrations unlikely to be human-health concern

Thousands of pesticides are used on crops and landscaping, are they in our groundwater? According to a new USGS study, the answer is a qualified yes—some pesticides and the chemical compounds they degrade to are common in groundwater used for public drinking-water supply, but mostly at concentrations well below levels of concern for...

Date published: December 10, 2020

Bakken Shale unconventional oil and gas production has not caused widespread hydrocarbon contamination to date in groundwater used for water supply

A new USGS study reports that shale-oil and -gas production from a major production area in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota has not caused widespread hydrocarbon contamination to date in nearby aquifer zones used for drinking-water supply.

Date published: December 1, 2020

"Legacy nitrogen" contributing to upward nitrate trends in streams

Despite the tremendous effort invested in reducing the use of nitrogen, widespread decreases in nitrate loads in US rivers and streams remain elusive—what gives? A new study from the USGS provides more evidence that the culprit is the slow release to streams of nitrogen that has accumulated in groundwater and other...