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

Atlean Lake in British Columbia
(2017-05-18)
April 26, 2017 On April 26, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) held an oversight hearing to review the Obama Administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The WOTUS rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule, was established to provide a more clear definition of...
Atlean Lake in British Columbia
(2017-05-18)
April 4, 2017 The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hosted a briefing on April 4 to discuss the economic and public health impacts of harmful algal blooms. An algal bloom is a rapid accumulation of algae in freshwater or marine systems. It can be caused by various different species, both harmful and...
Atlean Lake in British Columbia
(2017-04-10)
March 16, 2017 Representative Scott Peters (D-CA-52) introduced the Secure and Resilient Water Systems Act (H.R.1579) on March 16. The bill would help communities protect their drinking water systems from drought, industrial pollution, and potential attacks. The bill amends the Safe Drinking Water...
IES Water Glyph
(2017-03-06)
February 15, 2017 On February 15, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-6) introduced an amendment  (H.R.1068) to the Safe Drinking Water Act, which was last amended in 1996. H.R.1068 would update laws, direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set deadlines for the development of new...
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...

Case Studies & Factsheets

CI_Factsheet_2017_2_groundwater_170309_thumb.JPG

Fresh water from underground Groundwater is any water found underground in the cracks and pores in soil, sand, or rock. Groundwater provides 25% of the fresh water used in the United States.1 It is particularly important for irrigation and domestic uses in arid or remote areas, where surface...

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 ProblemThe 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

AGI's Environmental Awareness Series:  Water and Environment, Source: AGI
2002, American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
Water – not oil or minerals – is the most controlling resource on Earth. Its distribution, quantity, availability, and quality are the controls for the development of agriculture, industry, rural, urban, and municipal use. Water and the Environment, the 5th publication in the AGI Environmental...
Cover of PP1723; Source: USGS
2006, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
In the first half of the 20th century, engineering geology and geotechnical engineering were in their infancy, and dams were often built where landslides provided valley constrictions, often without expert site investigation. Only the most important projects were subjected to careful geologic...
Cover of FS2015-3020; Source: USGS
2015, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
In 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program is assessing stream quality in the Pacific Northwest. The goals of the Pacific Northwest Stream Quality Assessment (Pacific Northwest study) are to assess the quality of streams in the region by...
Cover for USGS FS 2014-3109 ; Source: USGS
2014, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
About 355,000 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) of water was withdrawn for use in the United States during 2010, a decline of 13 percent from 2005 and a substantial change from the level of about 400,000 Mgal/d reported from 1985 to 2005. Withdrawals for 2010 were lower than withdrawals estimated...
Cover of FS2015-3039; Source: USGS
2015, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has collected hydrologic information in New Mexico since 1889, beginning with the first USGS streamflow-gaging station in the Nation, located on the Rio Grande near Embudo, New Mexico. Water-resources information provided by the USGS is used by many government...
Cover for USGS FS 2014-3011 ; Source: USGS
2014, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Increased impervious surfaces (driveways, parking lots, and buildings) and human activities (residential, industrial, and commercial) have been linked to substantial changes in both the quality and quantity of stormwater on a watershed scale (Brabec and others, 2002; Pitt and Maestre, 2005). Small-...
Cover image of position paper; Image credit: NGWA
2017, National Ground Water Association (NGWA)
The Board of Directors of the National Ground Water Association supports the following statements consistent with the long-held positions of the Association: American citizens should have: The right to use the best source of potable water available The right to install a properly constructed...
Cover image of factsheet Image credit: NGWA
2016, National Ground Water Association (NGWA)
Unused wells that are not properly abandoned, or decommissioned, can be a hazard. Along with potentially contaminating water supplies, unused wells that are not sealed can be dangerous to people and animals. Wells can go unused for several reasons. The most common is that the well no longer...
Cover of PP1745; Source: USGS
2008, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Implementation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) has resulted in the restoration of approximately 2,200,000 ha (5,436,200 acres) of wetland and grassland habitats in the Prairie Pothole Region. These restored habitats...
Cover of fs2016-3007; Source: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) is a mosaic of river channels, backwater lakes, floodplain forests, and emergent marshes. This complex mosaic supports diverse aquatic and terrestrial plant communities, over 150 fish species; 40 freshwater mussel species; 50 amphibian and reptile species;...