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A new USGS report outlines the current state of water resources trend assessments in the U.S.

  • new USGS report outlines the current state of water resources trend assessments in the U.S.

About the entity

We provide science about the natural hazards that threaten lives and livelihoods; the water, energy, minerals, and other natural resources we rely on; the health of our ecosystems and environment; and the impacts of climate and land-use change.

Water resources sustain human development and aquatic ecosystems, but water scarcity is a global issue. Changes in water resource availability such as reduced streamflow or depleted groundwater can cause tension between human water use and ecological needs.

Water managers hold a lot of responsibility in balancing these needs, and they rely on our data to make well-informed decisions. 

At USGS, we detect and quantify changes in water resources. We also have a role to advance understanding of the drivers responsible for those changes. So, we conduct trend studies, which document historical changes in data over time. Trend studies provide essential information to guide water resources management.

Water managers need to know the effects of land use, water use, and climate change so they can effectively design water management strategies that better address human and ecosystem needs. 

In this recently released publication, our scientists outlined the current state of national water availability trend assessments and evaluated ways to advance future trend assessments. They concluded that additional capabilities must be developed and integrated into the assessments.  

Our scientists recommend potential solutions that could improve the management of water resources:  

  • timely and efficient delivery of trend results 
  • the capability to estimate trends in ungaged areas 
  • increased understanding of groundwater-surface water interactions 
  • better quantification of water use for human needs 
  • explicit representation of ecological flow requirements  

Our scientists also identified ways researchers could improve the design of the assessments. Researchers need methods to account for how changes in quality affect water supply estimates. They also need methods to develop improved datasets which would distinguish the interrelated impacts of land use, human water use, and climatic influences.  

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