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 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 for USGS FS 2014-3030 ; Source: USGS
2014, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The maps and graphs in this summary describe streamflow conditions for water year 2013 (October 1, 2012, to September 30, 2013) in the context of the 84-year period from 1930 through 2013, unless otherwise noted. The illustrations are based on observed data from the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS)...
Cover for USGS FS 2014-3031 ; Source: USGS
2014, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Groundwater provides more than 40 percent of California’s drinking water. To protect this vital resource, the State of California created the Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment (GAMA) Program. The Priority Basin Project of the GAMA Program provides a comprehensive assessment of the State...
Cover of IBWC San Pedro Aquifer report; Image Credit: IBWC
2016, International Boundary & Water Commission (IBWC)
The United States and Mexico share waters in a number of hydrological basins and aquifers that cross the international boundary. Both countries recognize that, in a region of scarce water resources and expanding populations, a greater scientific understanding of these aquifer systems would be...
Cover of fs2016-3055; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The maps and graphs in this summary describe national streamflow conditions for water year 2015 (October 1, 2014, to September 30, 2015) in the context of the 86-year period 1930–2015, unless otherwise noted. The illustrations are based on observed data from the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS)...
Cover for USGS FS 2014-3097 ; Source: USGS
2014, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Ohio's water resources support a complex web of human activities and nature-clean and abundant water is needed for drinking, recreation, farming, and industry, as well as for fish and wildlife needs. Although rainfall in normal years can support these activities and needs, occasional floods and...
Cover for USGS FS 2014-3074 ; Source: USGS
2014, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Information concerning the availability, use, and quality of water in Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana, is critical for proper water-supply 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 FS2014-3102; Source: USGS
2015, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Information concerning the availability, use, and quality of water in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, is critical for proper water-supply 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...
Water-Resources Appraisal of the South-Arkansas Lignite Area, Arkansas Geological Survey
1986, Arkansas Geological Survey (AGS)
This report presents baseline data defining hydrologic conditions in south-central Arkansas with special reference to the potential possible effects of lignite mining. 
Cover of USGS_circ1247.pdf; Source: USGS
2003, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Hydrologic stresses throughout the 20th century and presently (2003) have caused the depletion and degradation of our Nation’s vital ground-water resources in many areas. Management strategies have been and are being implemented to optimize use of our ground-water resources with respect to...
Cover of OFS2013-4; Source: Illinois Geological Survey
2013, Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS)
Summaries of 22 wetland mitigation sites are included in this report. Most summaries contain a location map, a site map showing field instruments and the extent of area satisfying wetland hydrology criteria, hydrographs from selected wells and surface-water gauges, and local precipitation data for...