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USGS Water-Quality Information

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 [Photo: USGS scientists collect water-quality samples.]

USGS personnel collect a water-quality sample on the Missouri River. USGS/Photo by Kelly Brady.


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Water Quality Data

Today's Water Conditions

Get continuous real-time water-quality measurements from Water-Quality Watch maps.
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Water Quality Portal (WQP)

Get current and historical USGS and EPA water-quality data at the WQP.


BioData

Get stream ecosystem aquatic bioassessment data from BioData.


For More Data

View a complete list of USGS water-quality data resources.

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 [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.

Selected Water-Quality Topics: Learn more about water quality

You can learn a lot about different water-quality topics on the USGS web site! This water-quality topics page provides the general public with a starting point for identifying introductory and overview USGS resources for learning about high-profile national water-quality issues and (or) water-quality topics of common interest.

Selected Topics

Additional Information

Drinking water

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Climate Change

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Specific Contaminants in Our Water

General References

Heavy Metals & Other Trace Elements

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Arsenic

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element in rocks, soils, and the waters in contact with them. Recognized as a toxic element for centuries, arsenic today also is a human health concern because it can contribute to skin, bladder, and other cancers (USGS Open-File Report 063-00). Arsenic can be released in the environment to surface waters and groundwater through a large variety of natural and anthropogenic sources, activities, or conditions, such as:

  • dissolution of arsenic-containing minerals in rocks
  • runoff from some types of mining wastes
  • leachate from landfills
  • production of ceramics
  • arsenic-treated wood

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Mercury

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Radionuclides: Radon and other Radiochemicals

Naturally occurring and man-made radioactive elements undergo radioactive decay in a series of transformations. Energy is emitted during each step of this decay process, which can occur as quickly as seconds or as long as many years. Particles and rays are given off during the decay process, some in the form of "ionizing radiation." Ionizing radiation can cause adverse human-health effects. There are several naturally occurring and man-made sources of ionizing radiation that are potential water contaminants.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas. Radon forms naturally in rocks and soils through the radioactive decay of radium. Radon commonly enters buildings through foundation cracks and may dissolve in groundwater and be carried into buildings served by water supply wells. Radon from groundwater is released into household air when water is used for showering, washing, and other everyday purposes. (Source: USGS Circular 1166)

The USGS conducts occurrence, geochemical, and other studies on radionuclides as water contaminants as well as their use for environmental tracer or age-dating tools.

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Medications (Pharmaceuticals) & Personal Care Products

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Pesticides & Herbicides

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Nutrients: Nitrogen and Phosphorous

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Petroleum Products & Related Additives

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Viruses & Other Water-Borne Pathogens

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Water-Quality Standards and Regulations

The U.S. Geological Survey does not regulate or enforce water-quality standards.

Other Sources of Information

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Wildfire

Relatively recent and new knowledge is emerging on the impacts of wildfires on the quality of drinking-water and on water-dependent natural resources. In the last several decades, both the incidence of large wildfires and the duration of the wildfire season across much of the United States have increased. Approximately 80 percent of the U.S's freshwater resource originates on forested land, and more than 3,400 public drinking-water systems are located in watersheds containing national forest lands. Thus, potential impacts from current and forecast wildfire occurrence on the quantity and quality of runoff used for source water and to support fisheries and aquatic habitats are considerable.

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Acid Rain

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Ecology: Fish, Invertebrates, Algae

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Groundwater and aquifers

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Agriculture & Livestock

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Mining

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Hydraulic Fracturing

We have updated our site to better serve you. Please see our updated page with USGS resources on hydraulic fracturing and water quality.

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Coal-Tar-Based Pavement Sealcoat

Studies by the USGS have identified coal-tar-based sealcoat — the black, viscous liquid sprayed or painted on asphalt pavement such as parking lots — as a major source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contamination in urban areas for large parts of the Nation. Several PAHs are suspected human carcinogens and are toxic to aquatic life. (Source: USGS Fact Sheet 2011-3010)

USGS

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Surface & Recreational Waters

Streams

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Lakes & reservoirs

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Beaches

USGS

Other Sources of Information

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Can't find what you are looking for?

To learn more about these and other topics, you can also:

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Disclaimer

Links and pointers to non-USGS sites (described here as "Other Sources of Information") are provided for information only and do not constitute endorsement by the USGS, U.S. Department of the Interior, or U.S. Government, of the referenced organizations, their suitability, content, products, or services, whether they are governmental, educational, or commercial. Please note that the USGS does not control and cannot guarantee the relevance, timeliness, or accuracy of these outside materials.

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URL: http://water.usgs.gov/owq/topics.html
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Page Last Modified: Tuesday, 01-Jul-2014 18:17:58 EDT