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USGS Groundwater Information > National Groundwater Awareness Week 2018

USGS Recognizes "National Groundwater Awareness Week," March 11-17, 2018

 [National Groundwater Awareness Week]

The USGS joins our community partners, including the National Ground Water Association, in recognizing March 11-17, 2018, as National Groundwater Awareness Week because groundwater is important to all of us!

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. The tools, information, and data from USGS scientists 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.

Long-term Groundwater Level Data Are Important

 [Scientist writes down data while working at a well]

Water-level measurements in observation wells are the main source of information about the hydrologic stresses acting on aquifers and how these stresses affect groundwater. Long-term, systematic measurements of water levels provide essential data needed to evaluate changes in groundwater resources over time and to inform plans to monitor and manage our Nation's water resources.

Collecting groundwater levels at selected observation wells over time -- sometimes for decades or more -- is one important task conducted by the USGS to help us understand groundwater recharge, storage, and discharge in our major aquifers.

Groundwater Level Data Across the Nation

 [Photo of green shed housing around well head]

USGS groundwater Site Number 433112075091501 (Oe-151) where USGS water-level records date back to 1926. Woodgate, New York. Credit: USGS. The image is in the public domain.

The USGS National Water Information System (NWIS) includes more than 850,000 records of wells, springs, test holes, tunnels, drains, and excavations across the country from groundwater sites that have been part of current or past USGS groundwater studies or programs.

Some of the wells USGS currently monitors have been around a long time. For example, the water-level data in one USGS well in Woodgate, New York, go back to 1926! Advances in technology now allow us to measure the water levels in that well every 15 minutes and to serve that data online to the public in near real-time.

 [Graph of groundwater level data]

Water-level data from April through March 2018 at USGS groundwater Site Number 433112075091501. Credit: USGS. The image is in the public domain.

Current Groundwater Conditions: Groundwater Watch

How do current groundwater levels compare to past conditions in the same well? USGS Groundwater Watch looks at this question. The network includes wells in the USGS NWIS database that have been measured at least once in the last 13 months, regardless of how often or why the measurements are made.

Animation of Groundwater Watch Active Water Level Network, 365 days

The USGS Active Groundwater Level Network animation shows a daily snapshot of water-level statistics in the network for the last year. Credit: USGS. The image is in the public domain.

Groundwater Watch can show us how current conditions in that same old New York well compared to conditions in that well for this month in the past:


Daily groundwater-level data (red data points) compared to historical conditions in any given month for USGS groundwater Site Number 433112075091501 (Oe-151) at Woodgate, New York. Credit: USGS. The image is in the public domain.


All groundwater-level data for USGS groundwater Site Number 433112075091501 (Oe-151) at Woodgate, New York, from July 1926 to the present. Credit: USGS. The image is in the public domain.

Long-term Conditions: Composite Hydrographs

There have been repeated requests for periodic, high-quality, nonpartisan reporting on the condition and use of groundwater in the United States. In particular, there has been interest in an analysis of the Nation's major aquifers to indicate where water levels are declining, increasing, or stable. In response to this need, USGS has developed composite water-level hydrographs for some of the Nation's Principal Aquifers. The composite hydrographs for a given aquifer are based on representative groundwater levels calculated from selected wells. These hydrographs are intended to show the 'average' response of water levels in a given Principal Aquifer over the last 30 years.

 [California Coastal Basin Aquifer Composite Hydrograph]

California Coastal Basin Aquifer 30-year annual normalized composite hydrograph as of March 2018. Credit: USGS. The image is in the public domain.

National Ground-Water Monitoring Network

No one agency in the United States monitors all groundwater wells in the Nation. However, a variety of Federal, State, and local agencies do measure groundwater levels in some wells as part of their work. The National Ground-Water Monitoring Network (NGWMN) compiles selected groundwater monitoring wells from Federal, State, and local groundwater monitoring networks across the nation, including the USGS NWISWeb. The NGWMN is the only consolidated public national U.S. groundwater-level database that combines State, Local, and Federal groundwater-level data into one online portal for convenient public access. Currently NGWMN includes data from more than 6,000 wells, 25 agencies, and 62 principal aquifers. The NGWMN is hosted by USGS and is a product of the Federal Advisory Committee on Water Information's Subcommittee on Groundwater.

 [Map of groundwater sites in the National Ground-Water Monitoring Network (NGWMN) as of March 2018]

Map of groundwater sites in the National Ground-Water Monitoring Network (NGWMN) as of March 2018. Credit: USGS. The image is in the public domain.

Photo of USGS Groundwater Site

USGS Groundwater Site 380758115204601. Credit: USGS/Hartley Delvalle. Photo is in the public domain. Click on photo for larger version.

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Page Last Modified: Friday, 09-Mar-2018 12:33:41 EST