Water-quality issues facing the Nation are growing in number and complexity, and solutions are becoming more challenging and costly. Key factors that affect the quality of our drinking water supplies and ecosystem health include contaminants of human and natural origin in streams and groundwater; excess nutrients and sediment; alteration of natural streamflow; eutrophication of lakes, reservoirs, and coastal estuaries; and changes in surface and groundwater quality associated with changes in climate, land and water use, and management practices. Tracking and forecasting the Nation's water quality in the face of these and other pressing water-quality issues are important goals for 2013-2023, the third decade of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program. In consultation with stakeholders and the National Research Council, a new strategic Science Plan has been developed that describes a strategy for building upon and enhancing assessment of the Nation's freshwater quality and aquatic ecosystems. The plan continues strategies that have been central to the NAWQA program's long-term success, but it also makes adjustments to the monitoring and modeling approaches NAWQA will use to address critical data and science information needs identified by stakeholders. This fact sheet describes surface-water and groundwater monitoring and modeling activities that will start in fiscal year 2013. It also provides examples of the types of data and information products planned for the next decade, including (1) restored monitoring for reliable and timely status and trend assessments, (2) maps and models that show the distribution of selected contaminants (such as atrazine, nitrate, and arsenic) in streams and aquifers, and (3) Web-based modeling tools that allow managers to evaluate how water quality may change in response to different scenarios of population growth, climate change, or land-use management.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Tracking and forecasting the Nation’s water quality - Priorities and strategies for 2013-2023