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Water Resources Investigations

Mission and Organization

The U.S. Geological Survey has the major responsibility within the Federal Government for assessing the Nation's water resources. It collects basic data and conducts special investigations to provide essential information for planners and managers. Increasing demands for water from a wide variety of users require that planners at Federal, State, and local levels establish new priorities for use. Sound judgment in determining such priorities depends on access to accurate hydrologic information and impartial expertise.

Office Of Water Data

A major new responsibility was assigned to the Survey in 1964 when it was designated the lead agency for coordinating water-data acquisition activities of all Federal agencies. Activities include those that produce information on streams, lakes, reservoirs, estuaries, and ground water. This coordination effort minimizes duplication of data collection among Federal

agencies and strengthens the data base and its accessibility.


Water Resources Division programs fall into four categories: the Federal Program, the Federal-State Cooperative Program, Assistance to Other Federal Agencies, and the Non-Federal Reimbursable Program.

The Federal Program

The data collection, resource investigation, and research activities of this program are carried out in areas where the Federal interest is paramount. These include bodies of water in the public domain, river basins and aquifers that cross State boundaries, and other areas of international or interstate concern. Activities include operation of surface- and ground-water quantity and quality measurement stations throughout the country, the Divison's Central Laboratories System, hydrologic research and analytical studies, and a variety of supporting services.

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Location of principal offices of the U.S. Geological Survey's Water Resources Division in the conterminous United States. Cities named are those where Regional and District Offices are located. Puerto Rico is included in the Southeastern Region, and Alaska and Hawaii are included in the Western Region.

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• Honolulu

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Field office
C Gulf Coast Hydrotclence Center

L National Water-Quality Laboratory


T USCS National Training Center H Regional Boundary

The Federal-state Cooperative Program

Non-federal Reimbursable Program

The Cooperative Program is based on the concept that Federal, State, and local governments have a mutual interest in evaluating, planning, developing, and managing the Nation's water resources. The immense size of the task of appraising the Nation's water resources precludes accomplishment by Federal efforts only. Similarly, State and local agencies working independently cannot relate to the sizable regional aspects of hydrologic systems. Because many water problems begin at the local level, the Geological Survey has cooperative agreements with all States under which each party funds one-half of the cost of financing studies of water resources. Cooperation through this program provides an economical and comprehensive system for waterresources assessments.

Most projects under the Cooperative Program respond to a recognized problem or define a potential one. In addition to data collection, programs may focus on water use and availability, the impact of man's activities on the hydrologic environment, and energyrelated water demands that may strain available water supplies. In emergency situations, such as drought or flood, events are extensively monitored, and the data accumulated under the Cooperative Program prove invaluable.

Assistance To Other Federal Agencies

With funds transferred from other Federal agencies, the Geological Survey performs a wide variety of work related to the specific needs of each agency.

Non-Federal reimbursable funds are unmatched funds received by the Geological Survey from State and local agencies in situations where Federal and State agencies are interested in investigation of water resources but where matching Federal funds are either unavailable or are not otherwise applicable to cost sharing.

Budget and Personnel

At the end of fiscal year 1984, the Water Resources Division employed 3,367 full-time personnel. This number included scientists and engineers, who represented all fields of hydrology and related sciences, technical specialists, and administrative, secretarial, and clerical employees. An additional 634 permanent part-time and intermittent employees assisted in the work of the Division.

The $218.5 million obligated in 1984 for water resources investigation activities came from the following sources:

1. Direct Congressional appropriations.

2. Congressional, State, and local

appropriations for 50-50 funding in the Federal-State Cooperative Program.

3. Funds transferred from other

Federal agencies.

4. Funds transferred from State and

local agencies.


In the following sections, highlights from some of the major programs are described.

New Merit Proposal Process Sparks the Federal-State Cooperative Program

The Federal-State Cooperative Program continues to be the largest component of the U.S. Geological Survey's water-resources activity. This Program was carried out in working partnership with more than 800 State, regional, and local agencies during fiscal year 1984. joint funding in the 50-50 matching Cooperative Program totaled about $100 million and comprised almost one-half of the overall program of the Water Resources Division. Hydrologic data collection and interpretive investigations were being conducted in every State, Puerto Rico, and several United States territories.

Each year, cooperator proposals typically exceed Federal funds that are available for matching by several million dollars. Priorities for data collection and hydrologic investigations are based on a continuing, detailed analysis of water problems and issues. This analysis is carried out through discussions with State and local cooperators, Federal agency officials, and the general public. For 1984, the principal concerns identified in these discussions were ground-water contamination, water supply and demand, stream quality, hydrologic hazards, and acid precipitation. Most of the Federal matching funds are allocated to highest priority activities by the Division's four Regional Offices after ranking the work proposed in their respective geographical areas of responsibility.

The Geological Survey now has a new process for funding selected proposals for water-resources investigations as part of the Federal-State Cooperative Program. In brief, part of the Cooperative Program appropriation is identified to undertake investigations chosen from a number of proposals on the basis of a merit ranking system. The process provides for a national level evaluation of each proposal based on the potential for transferring knowledge to be gained to other locations, the originality and quality of the scientific approach, and the anticipated contribution of the investigation to the advancement of science and technology. The Federal

support for merit proposals was $1 million in fiscal year 1983 and a like amount in fiscal year 1984; with matching cooperative funds, the total was about $2 million each year. In 1983,16 investigations were selected of the 33 proposed, and, in 1984,15 of 44 proposals were selected. Plans are to identify $1 million of U.S. Geological Survey matching funds for investigations to be chosen through this process in fiscal year 1985.

The new process formalizes existing procedures that have been used for the past 10 to 15 years to rank candidate proposals for the allocation of funds. Additional effort is applied, however, to ensure that the highest priority work is undertaken and that the anticipated technical contributions to the science of hydrology will be of top quality. Each merit proposal is reviewed and evaluated separately by five members of the Geological Survey's senior staff. The group then consolidates rankings, arbitrates differences, and allocates funds to the investigations in priority order.

Examples of current investigations selected through the merit proposal process are as follows:

Hazardous waste, Washington

State.—In the State of Washington,
more than 200 hazardous waste
sites are located where a high
probability of leachate impacts
surface and ground water. The
State is developing a major pro-
gram to deal with this problem and
has asked the Geological Survey for
technical assistance. The resulting
investigation consists of the
following phases: (1) hydrogeologic
characterization of existing hazard-
ous waste sites, (2) research on
how the pollutants are moving
through the hydrologic system and
on the reaction processes that are
involved, (3) broad characterization
of the most and least suitable areas
within the State for land disposal of
hazardous waste, and (4) technical
assistance in the evaluation of the
hydrogeological aspects of pro-

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posals and reports being considered by the State.

Ground water in /ractured-limestone formations near Brunswick, Georgia.—The dependence upon fractured-rock aquifers to supply much of the Nation's ground water makes it imperative that methods continue to be developed to simulate accurately ground-water movement in these aquifers. The primary objectives of this investigation are to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of existing mathematical models for simulating hydrogeologic flow in a fracturedlimestone aquifer and to develop, if necessary, a mathematical model capable of simulating flow in a fractured-rock aquifer. Results from this study will contribute to the understanding of the fractured and locally faulted limestone aquifer in the Brunswick area and will have transfer value to

investigations of fractured-rock aquifers elsewhere.

Wastes associated with mining, North Dakota.—Low grade uranium ore in western North Dakota's lignite was concentrated by open-pit burning of the lignite during the 1950's and 1960's. Investigations since October 1983 reveal that base flows in streams as far as 4 miles downgradient from the open pit have a uranium content in excess of 200 micrograms per liter, about 10 times the regional background. (Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations allow a maximum permissible concentration of 30,000 picocuries of natural uranium per liter for release into water.)

Precipitation quality, Massachusetts.—An investigation of the relationships between air-mass movement and variations in the quality of precipitation has been

underway in Massachusetts since September 1983. Values of pH in precipitation samples range from 3.7 to 5.4; most are from 4.2 to 4.8. The value 5.6 is considered to be the dividing line between acid and nonacid precipitation. Precipitation with a pH of less than 5.6 is called "acid rain." Meterological data are being obtained from the National Weather Service and private sources to identify such characteristics as air-mass source, trajectory, storm type, and season. These investigations are designed to clarify some of the questions regarding acid precipitation in the Northeastern United States, and

the methods developed in this investigation have significant transfer value to similar studies in other locations. The new system has produced worthwhile results even though it is highly probable that the merit investigations could have been funded under traditional procedures. The program development process has been strengthened because of the more intensive analysis within the Water Resources Division during the merit ranking. Incentive has been added for the planning and development of high-quality proposals, and technology transfer has been enhanced through closer interaction of operational and research programs.

Water Resources Scientific Information Center

Authorized by the Water Resources Research Act of 1964, the Water Resources Scientific Information Center was established in 1967 as a national center to increase the availability and awareness of water-related scientific and technical information. In accomplishing this goal, the Center abstracts water-resource publications and makes the information available to the waterresources community and the public through publications and computerized bibliographic information services. The Center formerly was located in the Office of Water Research and Technology, but, in late 1982, the Secretary of the Interior transferred it to the U.S. Geological Survey's Water Resources Division where it would complement the Division's long-standing program of

disseminating water information to the public. The Center produces Selected Water Resources Abstracts, a monthly abstracting and indexing journal now in its 17th volume, which covered about 6,000 abstracts in 1984, with projections of 8,000 in 1985. The computerized abstracts file contains about 170,000 abstracts that have appeared in Selected Water Resources Abstracts since 1968. This file can be searched by Federal agencies and their contractors by means of the U.S. Department of Energy's RECON system and is commercially searchable worldwide via DIALOG Information Services, Inc. Topical bibliographies are produced along with the abstracts file such as the Abstracting and Indexing Guide and the Water Resources Thesaurus.

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