Over the last 25 years, industry and government have made large financial investments aimed at improving water quality across the Nation. Significant progress has been made; however, many water-quality concerns remain. In 1991, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began implementing a full-scale National Water-Quality Assessment Program to provide consistent and scientifically sound information for managing the Nation's water resources. The goals of the NAWQA Program are to (1) describe current water-quality conditions for a large part of the Nation's freshwater streams and aquifers, (2) describe how water quality is changing over time, and (3) improve our understanding of the primary natural and human factors affecting water quality.
Assessing the quality of water in every location in the Nation would not be practical; therefore, NAWQA Program studies are conducted within a set of areas called study units (fig. 1). These study units are composed of more than 50 important river and aquifer systems that represent the diverse geography, water resources, and land and water uses of the Nation. The High Plains Regional Ground-Water Study is one such study area, designed to address issues relevant to the High Plains Aquifer system while supplementing water-quality information collected in other study units across the Nation. Implementation of the NAWQA Program for the High Plains Regional Ground-Water Study area began in 1998.