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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.]

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USGS Groundwater Information > Protect Your Groundwater Day 2013

USGS Recognizes "Protect Your Groundwater Day," September 10, 2013

 [National Groundwater Association - Protect Your Groundwater Day]

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) joins our partners in the groundwater community in recognizing September 10, 2013, as Protect Your Groundwater Day because groundwater is important to all of us!

Groundwater is one of the Nation's most valuable natural resources. It occurs almost everywhere beneath the Earth's surface and is a major source of water supply worldwide. It is the Nation's principal reserve of freshwater and represents much of the potential future water supply. Groundwater is a major contributor to flow in many streams and has a strong influence on river and wetland habitats for plants and animals.

At the USGS we observe and monitor groundwater conditions at locations across the United States. USGS scientists work constantly to improve our understanding of how groundwater moves through the subsurface and what human and natural factors affect the quantity and quality of that groundwater. Using data collected by USGS and cooperating agencies along with software and other tools developed by USGS scientists, USGS predicts long- and short-term changes to groundwater conditions as part of local and regional groundwater studies. We deliver the results of our observations, improved understanding, and predictions through journal articles, USGS reports, online databases, presentations at scientific meetings, and our web sites.

These USGS tools, information, and data are used every day by water-resource managers, regulators, policy makers, well operators, and others to make decisions about how best to protect our groundwater to meet current and future needs.


 [USGS groundwater scientists install sampling probe.]  [USGS scientist removes packer from well.]  [USGS personnel operate a drill rig.]  [USGS scientist measures the groundwater level.]  [USGS scientist records the location of a well.]

 [USGS scientist measures groundwater levels in a well.]

Understanding Groundwater Flow

In order to protect our groundwater, we must understand how groundwater flows through the ground. USGS scientists conduct studies to help us understand what affects groundwater movement through the subsurface. We study how quickly groundwater moves, where it flows in the subsurface, how it interacts with subsurface materials that surround it, and other important questions.

There are many different aspects to this work. Collecting groundwater levels at selected monitoring wells over time -- sometimes for decades or more -- is one important task. For some studies, USGS scientists test how groundwater responds to pumping in nearby wells or how water moves between streams and the subsurface. Other USGS scientists create computer programs to simulate or predict groundwater flow conditions over time.

View statistics about groundwater levels in USGS monitoring networks. Browse open-source groundwater software programs developed by USGS.

 [USGS scientist pumps water from a well before collecting samples.]

Studying Groundwater Availability

The USGS studies local and regional groundwater conditions to improve our understanding of groundwater availability in major aquifers across the Nation. "Water availability" is the spatial and temporal distribution of water quantity and quality, as related to human and ecosystem needs and as affected by human and natural influences. USGS scientists work to quantify current groundwater resources in selected major aquifer systems, to evaluate how these resources have changed over time, and to provide tools to better understand groundwater system response to future human demands and environmental stresses.

Water-resource managers and policy makers use the outcomes of these USGS studies to better understand how decisions we make today about groundwater use and management may affect the quality and quantity of groundwater available in the future.

Get an overview of groundwater availability in the United States, or learn more about current USGS regional groundwater availability studies.

 [USGS scientists analyze groundwater samples in the field.]

Understanding Groundwater Quality

Contaminants are introduced into groundwater by various processes. How these contaminants move through the ground and how persistent they are over time can be highly variable depending on the environment. USGS scientists research how to improve our understanding of the sources, movement, and fate of contaminants in groundwater. This research includes developing new tools and methods, as well as local and regional process studies and computer models.

Learn about why some public-supply wells are more vulnerable to contamination than others.

Read about a USGS study of the water quality of more than 2,000 groundwater wells across the United States.

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Page Last Modified: Friday, 06-Sep-2013 17:25:35 EDT