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 image for USGS FS2014-3084; Credit: USGS
2014, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) and Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD) were designed and populated by a large consortium of agencies involved in hydrography across the United States. The effort was led by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and...
Cover of TM7; Source: Wyoming State Geological Survey
2014, Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS)
Technical Memorandum S of the previous Snake/Salt River Basin Water Plan (Sunrise Engineering and others, 2003) contains a groundwater resource investigation that thoroughly examines the basin’s resources and usage. This Available Groundwater Determination represents the most current assessment of...
Cover of fs2016-3026 ; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Urban development creates multiple stressors that can degrade stream ecosystems by changing stream hydrology, water quality, and physical habitat. Contaminants, habitat destruction, and increasing streamflow variability resulting from urban development have been associated with the disruption of...
Cover image of factsheet; Image credit: Geological Society of London
2017, The Geological Society of London (GSL)
Supplying drinking water to every tap in the UK is a huge challenge. Water hidden underground, or groundwater, is a vital part of this process in many regions, but can also cause flooding. Find out more in our fact sheet.
Cover of fs2016-3061; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The U.S. Geological Survey began collecting streamflow data, in cooperation with the North Dakota State Water Commission, on the Souris River in and near Minot, North Dakota, in April 1903. The gage was started up to better understand the water resources available in North Dakota. Currently (2016...
Cover of PP1611; Source: USGS
2001, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The bedrock ceiling in parts of the Retsof salt mine in the the Genesee Valley, Livingston County, N.Y. collapsed on March 12, 1994 and water from overlying aquifers began to flow into the mine at a rate of 5,500 gal/min (gallons per minute), and the rate increased to as much as 20,000 gal/min...
Cover of WaterResources6.pdf; Source: American Institute of Professional Geologists
2006, American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG)
Water is the most important natural resource on the planet. Without it all life would perish and the earth would be nothing like it is today. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, many experts believe that we are transitioning from a mode of water-supply development to that of water demand...
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 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...
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...