Water

Water is essential for society and, as demand steadily rises, our most precious commodity. Geoscientists study how to provide a clean and secure water source to meet society's needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute
U.S. Geological Survey

Latest News

Hawaiian flower
(2016-11-03)
October 18, 2016 On October 18, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing at the Hawaiian State Capitol in Honolulu. The hearing addressed current water resource scarcity issues facing the state and recent water legislation. Hawaii‘s freshwater supplies are drawn almost...
Screenshot of interactive map of North Dakota surface water quality. Image Credit: North Dakota Department of Health
(2016-11-02)
#MapOfTheDay! Today the Critical Issues Program (@AGI_GeoIssues) shared an interactive map of surface water quality in North Dakota from the North Dakota Department of Health (@NDDOH), which you can find at http://bit.ly/2fsqStI. For information about water issues in North Dakota, check out our...
Irrigation equipment. (Background: Copyright Shutterstock.com/Sergey Nivens; right: Copyright Shutterstock.com/Cecilia Lim H M)
(2016-10-28)
The 2016 Critical Issues Forum, Addressing Changes in Regional Groundwater Resources: Lessons from the High Plains Aquifer concluded today at the Colorado School of Mines Ben H. Parker Student Center. An initial summary of social media posts using #CIForum16 were compiled connecting people to...
AGI Forum 2016 Groundwater Issues
(2016-10-21)
There is still time to register for this event! The 2016 Critical Issues Forum, Addressing Changes in Regional Groundwater Resources: Lessons from the High Plains Aquifer, will be held October 27-28 in Golden, Colorado. If you are a current student or belong to an AGI member society, you will...
Interactive map of water wells in Nebraska. Image Credit: Nebraska Department of Natural Resources
(2016-10-14)
#MapOfTheDay! Today the Critical Issues Program (@AGI_GeoIssues) shared an interactive map of water wells in Nebraska from the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (@NebraskaDNR), which you can find at bit.ly/22dbeyi. For more information on groundwater issues in the High Plains, consider...
Atlean Lake in British Columbia
(2016-10-11)
September 30, 2016 On September 15, the Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) (S. 2848), marking a major milestone in the two-year water policy bill. The bill passed with a final vote of 95-3. The House version of the bill was voted upon once an amendment authorizing funding to...
Interactive map of groundwater quality in Idaho. Image Credit: Idaho Bureau of Laboratories, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
(2016-10-04)
#MapOfTheDay! Today the Critical Issues Program (@AGI_GeoIssues) shared an interactive map of groundwater quality in Idaho from the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (@IDHW), which you can find at http://bit.ly/2dnK2gD. To learn more about groundwater, check...
Screenshot of the Marine Cadastre National Viewer. Image Credit: NOAA, BOEM
(2016-09-30)
The American Meteorological Society (AMS) Policy Program’s workshop, “Opportunities and Needs in Integrated Water Prediction, Risk Assessment, and Management for Coastal Resilience,” concluded on September 28th, providing insights to coastal scientists and managers on how to better serve their...
Flyer for Desalination Webinar. Image Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
(2016-09-27)
On Tuesday September 20, the Critical Issues Program hosted a webinar on the state of desalination in the United States and further afield. The three speakers were Tzahi Cath (Colorado School of Mines), Jessica Jones (Poseidon Water), and Katherine Zodrow (Montana Tech). Topics covered included the...
Interactive map of Texas Gulf shoreline change rates. Image Credit: Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas
(2016-09-23)
#MapOfTheDay! Today the Critical Issues Program (@AGI_GeoIssues) shared an interactive map of shoreline change rates along the Texas Gulf Coast from the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences (@txgeosciences), which you can find at http://bit.ly/1GoF214...

Case Studies

Fig. 1 - The geologic map of part of the Pell City quadrangle, AL, accurately identifies the recharge area of the Fort Payne Chert aquifer (medium blue) that must be protected from pollution. Credit: W. Thomas

Defining the Problem In central Alabama, the Mississippian-age Fort Payne Chert is an important aquifer for domestic and municipal water supplies. Rainfall recharges groundwater where the chert is exposed at the land surface. Where the chert has been quarried, many of the abandoned pits have...

Fig. 1. A groundwater hydrograph from a domestic well completed in an isolated sandstone of the Cretaceous lower Mancos Shale. The water level dropped about 70 ft in one year and the well subsequently went dry. Credit: P. Johnson

Defining the Problem The population of the historic village of Placitas, New Mexico, in the picturesque and geologically complex Sandia foothills north of Albuquerque, has tripled since 1970. Increased domestic well development, combined with persistent droughts, have culminated in dry and...

Research Database Publications

Cover of Water Hardness factsheet; Image credit: The Geological Society
2016, The Geological Society of London (GSL)
Have you ever noticed that tap water tastes different depending on where you are? Have you ever seen a white coating inside your kettle or the shower head, or found that the shower gel won't lather up? All these effects are caused by differences in the 'hardness' of the water. This factsheet was...
Cover for USGS FS 2014-3024 ; Source: USGS
2014, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
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...
Cover of fs2016-3002; Source: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The Edwards aquifer is an important water resource in south-central Texas, providing water for residents, businesses, and ecosystems. The aquifer is a highly complex karst system characterized by areas of rapid groundwater flow, faulted and fractured Cretaceous-age rocks, and multiple water-quality...
Image of the Chesapeake Bay taken from Landsat satellite data.
2014, American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
The Chesapeake Bay watershed is the largest on the Atlantic seaboard, encompassing most of Maryland and Virginia, along with parts of Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. More than 150 rivers flow into the system, carrying pollution and nutrient runoff from a 160,000-square-kilometer...
Cover image for TIS-16 ; Source: Iowa Geological Survey
1989, Iowa Geological Survey (IGS)
The Big Spring basin is a 103 square mile groundwater basin located in Clayton County, in northeastern Iowa. The groundwater basin has been defined through extensive hydrological investigations of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Geological Survey Bureau (DNR-GSB) and cooperating agencies...
Cover of sir20165164; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Hawai'i's aquifers have limited capacity to store fresh groundwater because each island is small and surrounded by saltwater. Saltwater also underlies much of the fresh groundwater. Fresh groundwater resources are, therefore, particularly vulnerable to human activity, short-term climate cycles, and...
Cover of sir20165115; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The Northern Arizona Regional Groundwater Flow Model was used to estimate the hydrologic changes, including water-level change and groundwater discharge to streams and springs, that may result from future changes in groundwater withdrawals in and near the Coconino Plateau Water Advisory Council...
Cover of fs2016-3048; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Information concerning the availability, use, and quality of water in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, is critical for proper water-resource management. The purpose of this fact sheet is to present information that can be used by water managers, parish residents, and others for stewardship of this...
Cover of fs2016-3025 ; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Managing the urban-water cycle has increasingly become a challenge for water-resources planners and regulators faced with the problem of providing clean drinking water to urban residents. Sanitary and combined sanitary and storm sewer networks convey wastewater to centralized treatment plants....
Cover of PP1656c; Source: USGS
2007, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Many areas of the United States have experienced water shortages as a consequence of increased water use due to population pressures, industrial growth, and changes in agricultural irrigation practices. As a result of these increasing demands on water resources, many states have established, or are...