In 1991, the U.S. Congress established the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to develop nationally consistent long-term datasets and provide information about the quality of the Nation’s streams and groundwater. The USGS uses objective and reliable data, water-quality models, and systematic scientific studies to assess current water-quality conditions, to identify changes in water quality over time, and to determine how natural factors and human activities affect the quality of streams and groundwater. NAWQA is the only non-regulatory Federal program to perform these types of studies; participation is voluntary. In the third decade (Cycle 3) of the NAWQA program (2013–2023), the USGS will evaluate the quality and availability of groundwater for drinking supply, improve our understanding of where and why water quality is degraded, and assess how groundwater quality could respond to changes in climate and land use. These goals will be addressed through the implementation of a new monitoring component in Cycle 3: Principal Aquifer Surveys.
- Fact Sheet