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The USGS Water Science School

The Effects of Urbanization
on Water Quality

You can understand why the water quality of our urban water supplies is so important. After all, the majority of the United State's population now live in or near cities. Big cities mean big development over large areas, which can certainly have an impact on the local water supply.

It's not that hard to imagine that as cities grow, things happen that can harm the quality of the local water resources. That is why most governments must take measures to protect rivers, streams, lakes, and aquifers when small towns grow into big cities.

Here are some water-quality issues that relate to urban development.

How You Can Help

The EPA has some ideas of things you can do to lessen detrimental effects of urban stormwater runoff:

Information in this section is from the U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 96-4302, 1996, "Everyone Lives Downstream" (poster). Poster is available by calling 770-903-9100.

 Groundwater quality

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