National Water Quality Program


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.

More about this program

Featured Study: Flow Modification of the Nation's Streams

Featured Study: Flow Modification of the Nation

A new USGS study reports that human management of land and water resources have modified natural patterns of streamflow along more than 1.2 million miles of U.S. streams. Flow modification was associated with losses of native fish or invertebrates.

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Featured Study: Fluoride in Groundwater Used for Drinking

Featured Study: Fluoride in Groundwater Used for Drinking

Fluoride occurs commonly in groundwater used for drinking, but typically at concentrations less than the drinking-water standard for human health, reports a new study, and in many cases below the optimal concentration to prevent tooth decay.

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Date published: September 28, 2020

Surface-water nutrient and sediment mappers are now available

SPARROW mappers are interactive tools that allow users to evaluate streamflow and nutrient and sediment conditions as well as the importance of different sources of contaminants in a selected river basin. Data can be visualized at different scales using maps and interactive graphs and tables.

Date published: September 16, 2020

New Study Identifies Pesticide Mixtures in U.S. Rivers and Streams

A mix of multiple pesticides is common in many U.S. streams, reports a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Program.

Date published: September 4, 2020

New USGS website provides water quality information for U.S. streams and rivers

Interested in water-quality concentrations, loads, and trends in streams and rivers across the United States? Check out a new USGS website with data from the USGS National Water Quality Network—110 stream and river sites with long-term, consistent data on water quality.


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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.

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Year Published: 2019

Hydrocarbons in upland groundwater, Marcellus Shale Region, Northeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New York, USA

Water samples from 50 domestic wells located <1 km (proximal) and >1 km (distal) from shale-gas wells in upland areas of the Marcellus Shale region were analyzed for chemical, isotopic, and groundwater-age tracers. Uplands were targeted because natural mixing with brine and hydrocarbons from deep formations is less common in those areas...

McMahon, Peter B.; Lindsey, Bruce D.; Conlon, Matthew D.; Hunt, Andrew G.; Belitz, Kenneth; Jurgens, Bryant; Varela, Brian

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Year Published: 2019

Estimating domestic well locations and populations served in the contiguous U.S. for years 2000 and 2010

Domestic wells provide drinking water supply for approximately 40 million people in the United States. Knowing the location of these wells, and the populations they serve, is important for identifying heavily used aquifers, locations susceptible to contamination, and populations potentially impacted by poor-quality groundwater. The 1990 census was...

Johnson, Tyler D.; Belitz, Kenneth; Lombard, Melissa