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USGS Groundwater Watch

USGS maintains a network of active wells to provide basic statistics about groundwater levels.

 [Image: USGS active water level wells location map.]

USGS in Your State

USGS Water Science Centers are located in each state.

 [Map: There is a USGS Water Science Center office in each State.] Washington Oregon California Idaho Nevada Montana Wyoming Utah Colorado Arizona New Mexico North Dakota South Dakota Nebraska Kansas Oklahoma Texas Minnesota Iowa Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Wisconsin Illinois Mississippi Michigan Indiana Ohio Kentucky Tennessee Alabama Pennsylvania West Virginia Georgia Florida Caribbean Alaska Hawaii and Pacific Islands New York Vermont New Hampshire Maine Massachusetts South Carolina North Carolina Rhode Island Virginia Connecticut New Jersey Maryland-Delaware-D.C.

Groundwater Networks

Groundwater hydrology is an interpretive science; because we cannot observe the resource directly, we must interpolate and extrapolate our understanding from known points of data. Water-level measurements from observation wells are the principal source of information about the hydrologic stresses acting on aquifers and how these stresses affect groundwater recharge, storage, and discharge.

A groundwater network is a set of wells at which water levels are routinely measured. The goal of groundwater network design is to allocate available funds, human resources, equipment, and time to efficiently obtain the groundwater data needed for operating, administering, managing, researching, and planning water-resources programs. The report "Ground-Water-Level Monitoring and the Importance of Long-Term Water-Level Data" by Taylor and Alley discusses the need and use for long-term water-level data.

USGS Groundwater Network Portals

 [Image: USGS active water level wells location map.]

The USGS Groundwater Watch web site groups related wells and data from USGS National Water Information System (NWIS) active well networks and provides basic statistics about the water-level data. Networks include the Active Groundwater Level Network, the Climate Response Network, the Real-Time Groundwater Level Network, and other national, regional, and local networks.

 [Map: National Groundwater Monitoring Network (NGWMN) data portal]

The National Groundwater Monitoring Network (NGWMN) is a compilation of selected groundwater monitoring wells from Federal, State, and local groundwater monitoring networks across the nation. The NGWMN Data Portal provides access to groundwater data from multiple, dispersed databases in a web-based mapping application. The portal contains current and historical data including water levels, water quality, lithology, and well construction.

Selected References

The following references offer some examples of qualitative and quantitative methods for evaluating and designing networks. This is not a comprehensive list, but a starting point for the topic of groundwater networks.

Advisory Committee on Water Information, Subcommittee on Ground Water, 2013, A National Framework for Ground Water Monitoring in the United States: Advisory Committee on Water Information, 169 p.

Advisory Committee on Water Information, Subcommittee on Ground Water, 2009, A National Framework for Ground Water Monitoring in the United States: Advisory Committee on Water Information, 81 p.

Conger, R.W, 1997, Evaluation of selected wells in Pennsylvania's observation-well program as of 1993: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 96-4319. 73 pp.

Cunningham, W.L., Geiger, L.H., and Karavitis, G.A., 2007, U.S. Geological Survey Ground-Water Climate Response Network: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2007-3003, 4p.

Frost, L.R., O'Hearn, Michael, Gibb, J.P., Sherrill, M.G., 1984, Illinois ground-water observation network - a preliminary planning document: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 84-584, p.

Heath, R.C., 1974, Why measure ground-water levels?: U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Division Bulletin, January-March, 1974, pp. 19-25.

Heath, R.C., 1976, Design of ground-water level observation-well programs: Ground Water, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 71-77.

Hudak, P.F., Loaiciga, H.A., and Schoolmaster, F.A., 1993, Application of geographic information systems to groundwater monitoring network design: Water Resources Bulletin, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 383-390.

Kim, N.J., Cho, M.J., and Woo, N.C., 1995, Developing a national groundwater-monitoring network in Korea: Hydrogeology Journal, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 89-94.

Lambert, R.B., 1992, The ground-water-level monitoring network in Iowa: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 92-27, 31 p.

Melvin, R.L., 1986, Connecticut observation wells - guidelines for network modification: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 85-4079, 24 p.

Olea, R.A., 1984, Sampling design optimization for spatial functions: Mathematical Geology, v. 16, no. 4, p. 369-392.

Olea, R.A., and Davis, J.C., 1999, Optimizing the High Plains Aquifer Water-level Observation Network: Kansas Geological Survey Open File Report 1999-15. (Available online at

Peters, H.J., 1972, Criteria for groundwater level data networks for hydrologic and modeling purposes: Water Resources Research, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 194-200.

Reynolds, R.J., 1999, Evaluation of the Federal-State cooperative observation well network in upstate New York, 1995-97: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 99-468, 36 p.

Swain, E.D., and Sonenshein, R.S., 1994, Spatial and temporal statistical analysis of a ground-water level network, Broward County, Florida: USGS WRIR 94-4076

Taylor, C.J.; Alley, W.M., 2001, Ground-water-level monitoring and the importance of long-term water-level data: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1217.

Taylor, G.C., 1975, Planning and design of ground-water networks: U.S. Geological Survey, Office of Groundwater Technical Memorandum 76.2. (

U.S Geological Survey, 2002, Concepts for national assessment of water availability and use: U.S Geological Survey Circular 1223, 39 p.

Wallace, J.C. and Crist, M.A., 1989, Procedures for evaluating observation-well networks in Wyoming, and application to northeastern Wyoming, 1986: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 88-4215, 29 p.

Winner, M.D., 1981, Proposed observation-well network and ground-water level program for North Carolina: USGS Open File Report 81-544

Winter, T.C., 1972, An approach to the design of statewide or regional groundwater information systems: Water Resources Research, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 222-230.

Winter, T.C., Mallory, S.E., Allen, T.R., and Rosenberry, D.O., 2000, The use of principal component analysis for interpreting ground-water hydrographs: Ground Water, v. 38, no. 2, p. 234-246.

Woldt, W. and Bogardi, I., 1992, Ground water monitoring network design using multiple criteria decision making and geostatistics: Water Resources Bulletin, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 45-62.

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