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Contents | Introduction | Importance of Ground Water to the Nation | Evolving Ground-Water Issues and USGS Programs | Relationship of GWRP to Other USGS Programs | Current Activities of the GWRP | Future Priorities for the GWRP | Concluding Remarks |


STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS FOR THE U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY GROUND-WATER RESOURCES PROGRAM

A Report to Congress

November 30, 1998

CONCLUDING REMARKS


“The USGS has been investigating water resources for more than 100 years. Thus, it has developed a broad picture of the nation’s water supplies.”


From: National Research Council, 1991, Preparing for the Twenty-First Century--A Report to the USGS Water Resources Division: National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., p. 16.


Ground water is critical to many current and future needs of the Nation. Not only are the 130 million residents who drink ground water concerned about this precious resource, but everyone has a stake in ground water because of its role in the hydrologic cycle. Better understanding of ground-water systems on a regional and national basis is necessary for water managers to know what actions are needed to ensure the future sustainability of the Nation's aquifers and to help national water policy focus on the most pressing issues. Current activities of the Ground-Water Resources Program serve as prototypes for possible new directions of the program. Past, present, and potential future activities of the Ground-Water Resources Program are summarized in Table 1.

The USGS continues to provide unbiased, scientifically sound data and assessments to assist managers and policymakers to address the Nation's most critical ground-water issues. Through its expertise in hydrology, biology, geology, and mapping, the USGS is uniquely qualified to address ground-water resources in a fully integrated manner. The National Research Council (NRC) is currently examining USGS ground-water programs and has been asked to review the program plans that are briefly described here.

 

Table 1. USGS Ground-Water Resources Program and general ground-water resource investigations--Past, present, and potential future activities

[... indicates the same activities as the previous time period; GW, ground water; SW, surface water]


Past

Present

Future priorities
Scientific assessment of critical issues
Regional aquifer analysis Integrated regional aquifer study of the Middle Rio Grande Basin Further regional aquifer studies that integrate USGS expertise in hydrology, biology, geology, and mapping
Water-level declines measured for selected aquifers and some RASA systems ... + High Plains monitoring ... + Additional periodic multi-State water-level monitoring of major aquifer systems
Water-use data collected on a geographic basis ... ... + Enhanced water-use information based on aquifer units
Subsidence studies at local scale ... ... + Regional assessment of subsidence
Saltwater intrusion studied at local scale or one time assessment under RASA program ... + Synthesis of known information on freshwater/saltwater relations along the Atlantic coast Regional assessments of saltwater intrusion and decreases in freshwater discharges to coastal environments
GW/SW interaction focusing mainly on streamflow depletion ... + GW/SW interaction in the southwestern United States ... + Studies on a broad range of issues related to GW/SW interaction in major regions of the country
GW in complex geologic environments studied at local scale on an ad-hoc basis ... ... + Analysis of GW in karst, fractured rock, permafrost, and other complex environments
Regional and national overviews
National overview of the status of GW availability and use in 1923, 1952, 1963, and 1970’s None Periodic overviews on a regional and national scale
Access to ground-water data
Localized computer data base ... Internet access to GW site data
Local hydrologic maps ... + National Ground-Water Atlas National Aquifer Data Base on Internet

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