AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS: USGS Economic Analysis of Anacostia River Shows Potential Value of Restoring Urban Streams Nationwide
WASHINGTON, D.C.-- The U.S. Geological Survey today released an analysis of the Watts Branch of the Anacostia River in Prince Georges County, Md. and Washington, D.C. that documents how restoration work on this urban tributary has had a substantial impact on the local economy, directly or indirectly accounting for 45 jobs, $2.6 million in local labor income and $3.4 million in value added to the local D.C. metropolitan area in 2011.
"The USGS study confirms the value of re-greening our urban landscapes around the nation," said David J. Hayes, Deputy Secretary of the Interior. "Restoring one of the most degraded urban streams in the Anacostia watershed while also addressing sewage infrastructure benefited a struggling local economy, provided an improved park and green space for residents, and enhanced wildlife habitat. Restoring a stream is helping restore a community and demonstrates the power of partnerships."
The Anacostia watershed is one of the priority areas for interagency cooperation in both President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership.
D.C. and federal agencies formed the Watts Branch restoration partnership in 2010 to restore a segment of one of the most urbanized watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay drainage basin. Completed in 2011, the restoration project was funded largely by the District of Columbia's Department of Environment and also carried out by the Department of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service along with the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington Water and Sewer and several local organizations.
The partnership has addressed both environmental degradation and sewage infrastructure needs of the Watts Branch, which originates in the Capitol Heights area of Prince George's County, flowing almost 5 miles to the Anacostia, which drains to the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.
The analysis, conducted by USGS economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Elizabeth Myrick, found that restoring Watts Branch had a substantial impact on the local economy. The restoration directly accounted for 26 jobs and more than $1.5 million in local labor income including salaries, wages and benefits and $1.5 million in local value added (the contribution of expenditures to Gross Domestic Product). Moreover, the restoration indirectly supported an additional 19 jobs, providing an additional $1.1 million in labor income and $1.9 in value added to the local economy. Restoring Watts Branch contributed more than $3 million to a struggling local economy.
"This restoration project shows the fiscal and transformative power of re-greening urban areas—supporting local jobs, upgrading infrastructure, and helping improve the local economy," said Hayes, noting that the Watts study is one of a number of case studies on the impact of restoration projects in other parts of the country. "With a roughly $2 trillion backlog in infrastructure needs nationwide, our country has a tremendous opportunity to advance both economic and environmental goals through other restoration projects."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners not only restored the eroded stream channel, which was depositing nearly 1,500 tons of sediment into the Anacostia watershed each year, but also relocated and improved sewer lines to address and prevent future sewage leaks. Infrastructure and environmental restoration improved water quality, increased floodplain storage, reduced erosion and improved in-stream habitat to support fish like American eel, alewife and American shad. Local residents regained a beautiful urban stream, and habitat along the stream also improved for birds such as warblers, barred owls and great blue herons, to name just a few.
Moreover, local communities have seen utility and street upgrades. A local nonprofit, Washington Parks and People, has begun using Watts Branch as an outdoor classroom to prepare an emerging workforce for jobs in urban and community forestry.
"The Watt's Branch restoration turned a degraded stream into an urban sanctuary within an underserved community," the analysis concluded.
President Obama's America’s Great Outdoors Initiative is a conservation agenda for the 21st century. It underscores how urban parks and community green spaces can contribute to the social, physical, economic and emotional health of America's communities. The Anacostia is one of the priority areas chosen under America’s Great Outdoors.
The Anacostia River Watershed also is one of the original pilot project areas of the interagency Urban Waters Federal Partnership led by EPA. Through this partnership, the Interior Department and 10 other federal departments work to reconnect urban areas—particularly those that are overburdened or economically distressed—with their waterways through improved collaboration.
Android and iPhone users can now use their mobile devices as digital topo maps, leveraging USGS maps together with the power of GPS to zoom in on their precise location while hiking, biking, running, or any other activity that benefits from precision navigation. The type of data that are available includes USGS imagery and topographic maps from The National Map, as well as road and contour layers.
Currently, two Android applications are using USGS data, OruxMaps (http://www.oruxmaps.com/index_en.html) and AlpineQuest (http://alpinequest.psyberia.net/). These apps include USGS services in the list of available online maps.
For users that may be navigating in an area that is outside of cell phone coverage, Mobile Atlas Creator (http://mobac.sourceforge.net/) is allowing users of this desktop application to build small "mobile atlases" with USGS data. These "mobile atlases" can be built over any area of interest at multiple scales, and when completed, the small file is moved to the phone. The "mobile atlases" enable GPS applications on both iPhone and Android mobile devices. By storing this small amount of data on the phone, these "mobile atlases" ensure the topographic data is available even when cell coverage is not.
Users of mobile devices can use USGS data on their GPS-enabled phones to track their adventure or workout. This capability is new, and promises to increase awareness and use of USGS data and services, as well as increase demand for US Topos.
To use TNM data on your Android device:
- Install either OruxMaps or AlpineQuest via Google Play App Store.
- USGS TNM data is available through these two applications as a dynamic, online layer.
- Switch map sources to view either TNM Topo or Satellite data through the application.
- OruxMaps manual available online in PDF format.
- More information on Alpine Quest is available online.
To use TNM data on your iOS device:
- Install Galileo on your iPhone or iPad via iTunes App Store.
- Build offline map file(s) on MOBAC (instructions below).
- Move files to iPad or iPhone.
To build map files that will allow an Android or iPhone to use USGS TNM data when data connectivity is not available:
- Download the MOBAC desktop application (Mobile Atlas Builder).
- Unzip the downloaded file, and activate the "Mobile Atlas Creator.exe" file.
- Users can then indicate the mobile application they are using (Galileo, AlpineQuest, etc) , and highlight an area of interest to build an offline map file.
- Select the appropriate scales.
- Select "Create Atlas", and move resulting folder (and map data) to the appropriate folder on the mobile phone.
- More information on using MOBAC is available through the "Quick Start Manual".
The USGS National Geospatial Technical Operations Center (NGTOC) is continuing to work with mobile developers, to ensure our data are available to the public.
Disclaimer: Any use of trade, firm or product names does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made by the USGS or the U.S. Government as to the accuracy and functioning of the commercial software programs cited in this Technical Announcement, and the U.S. Government shall not be held liable for improper or incorrect use of the USGS National Map Topographic Data employing these software programs.USGS TNM Topographic Data as viewed in AlpineQuest. (Larger image) USGS TNM Topographic Data as viewed in OruxMaps. (Larger image) Mobile Atlas Creator (MOBAC) about to create a USGS TNM Topographic "atlas" of various scales. (Larger image)
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) today released an updated oil and gas resource assessment for the Bakken Formation and a new assessment for the Three Forks Formation in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.
The report and maps are available online.
AUGUSTA, Maine – More than 800 acres of uplands in and near Acadia National Park will likely be flooded by the ocean if sea level rises 2 feet during this century, leaving 75 percent of the saltwater marshes along this part of central Maine's rugged coast with very little upland area to migrate into, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study and maps.
If plant material and sediments can accumulate in Maine's salt marshes fast enough to keep pace with sea-level rise, the uplands could provide areas for new salt marsh habitat. But that would require faster accumulation rates than those observed in the last century.
"The precise amount of sea-level rise that we should expect this century is not known," said USGS scientist Martha Nielsen, who led the study. "This report and maps are intended to inform decision makers with science to assist in planning for an uncertain future. By identifying the uplands that could support new salt marshes ahead of time, we hope to aid land management and preservation efforts to sustain marsh ecosystems in the area."
The study, done in cooperation with the National Park Service, identified more than 40 potential barriers that, in addition to rugged topography, would further restrict inland migration of some marshes. The barriers are mostly roads that limit water and sediment movement. This study is intended to help managers proactively plan for mitigation of those barriers.
Salt marshes provide significant ecological value and aesthetic beauty to Maine's coasts. Their ecological functions include nursery and breeding habitat for many fish, shellfish, and wildlife species; storm, flood, and erosion protection; organic-matter production that feeds many commercially and recreationally valuable species; and filtration for sediments and contaminants.
The study area included all coastal areas in Maine from the eastern half of Penobscot Bay to the eastern edge of the Schoodic Peninsula. The 114 saltwater marshes included in the study range in size from larger than half an acre, up to 128 acres.
The analysis was based on high-resolution elevation data collected for coastal New England in 2010 with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funding. The data were independently assessed for accuracy, and the maps show the expected inundation around each marsh to a 95 percent confidence interval. The manmade barriers to migration identified in the study are also shown.
Reporters: Do you want to accompany field crews as they tag yellow perch on Lake Erie during the week of April 29th? Please contact Holly Muir at 734-214-9318 or email@example.com.
Sandusky, Ohio – With help from local anglers and fishermen, the U.S. Geological Survey and Ohio Department of Natural Resources will kick-start a five-year collaborative fish-tagging effort this week to better understand movement of yellow perch across Lake Erie.
Biologists are tagging adult yellow perch with tiny devices called Passive Integrated Transponders, or PIT tags, to track fish migration, and are asking for assistance from anglers and commercial fishermen to make fish available for scanning. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall fishing seasons, the USGS and ODNR biologists will frequent recreational access points, such as boat ramps and fish-cleaning stations, in order to interview anglers and scan fish. Commercial fishermen will be contacted based on the real-time information they provide to the ODNR catch reporting system.
"We are excited to be working with the ODNR to enhance scientific information on fish movement patterns," said Dr. Richard Kraus, chief of the USGS Lake Erie Biological Station. "Our Canadian partners in the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources are also tagging yellow perch with PIT tags, so there will be mutual benefits for both countries with the potential to detect north-south movements."
PIT tags are a miniaturized version of the electronic toll-collection technology used on turnpikes. Each tag is about the size of a grain of rice and is uniquely coded per specific fish. It is placed in an inedible portion of the fish, so it does not affect the ability of the fish to be eaten. The scanning process only takes several seconds per cooler or 100-pound fish box, which hold 300-400 fish each. The angler interviews, or creel surveys, are critical to collecting data because it is impossible to tell if a fish is tagged without scanning it.
Tagging will occur from the ODNR’s 43-foot Research Vessel Grandon with other small agency vessels assisting the Grandon during the effort.
"The ODNR is pleased to be pursuing this collaborative research project with USGS, the Lake Erie Committee agencies, and stakeholder groups," said Jeff Tyson, ODNR, administrator for the Division of Wildlife Lake Erie Program. "Movement patterns of yellow perch have been identified as an information gap by resource management agencies and stakeholder groups, and this research will help the Lake Erie Committee agencies responsibly manage the valuable Lake Erie yellow perch resources."
This work is funded through the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act and administered through the ODNR, Division of Wildlife. The Sport Fish Restoration Program was created to restore and better manage fishery resources with funds originating from excise taxes on fishing equipment, motorboat, and small engine fuels.
Additional Contact: Kristen Hart, Mobile Phone: 954-650-0336
DRY TORTUGAS, Fla. – Nesting green sea turtles are benefiting from marine protected areas by using habitats found within their boundaries, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study that is the first to track the federally protected turtles in Dry Tortugas National Park.
Green turtles are listed as endangered in Florida and threatened throughout the rest of their range, and the habits of green sea turtles after their forays to nest on beaches in the Southeast U.S. have long remained a mystery. Until now, it was not clear whether the turtles made use of existing protected areas, and few details were available as to whether they were suited for supporting the green sea turtle’s survival.
U.S. Geological Survey researchers confirmed the turtles' use of the protected areas by tracking nesting turtles with satellite tags and analyzing their movement patterns after they left beaches.
"Our goal was to better understand what types of habitats they used at sea and whether they were in fact putting these designated areas to use. This study not only shows managers that these designated protected areas are already being used by turtles, but provides insight into the types of habitats they use most," said the study’s lead author, Kristen Hart, who works as a research ecologist for the U.S. Geological Survey.
Hart's team made the discovery by fitting green sea turtle mothers with satellite tags after they came onto beaches within Dry Tortugas National Park to nest. After tracking their movements and analyzing their time at sea, the team located the areas turtles used between their nesting events and determined where turtles traveled after the nesting season was over.
They found green sea turtles spending much of their time in protected sites within both Dry Tortugas National Park and the surrounding areas of the Florida Keys Marine National Sanctuary.
"We were thrilled to find that these turtles used some areas already under 'protected' status. The ultimate goal is to help managers understand where these endangered turtles are spending their time both during the breeding period and then when they are at feeding areas. Given that worldwide declines in seagrasses – one of the most important habitats they rely on for food – has already been documented, this type of data is critical for managers," said Hart.
The team learned about the turtle's habitat needs during the nesting season by using ATRIS, a georeferenced, underwater camera system developed by the USGS to collect over 195,000 seafloor images. Researchers surveyed the areas frequented by turtles within Dry Tortugas National Park by photographing the seafloor in a series of parallel lines totaling 70 kilometers (over 43 miles). Using a habitat map derived from those images, they found that the turtles most commonly used shallow seagrass beds and degraded coral reefs that have been overgrown by a mixed assemblage of other organisms, such as sea fans, sponges, and fire coral.
"Our synergistic approach of combining satellite telemetry data with an extensive habitat map proved to be an effective way to find out exactly what habitats these nesting turtles were using in the Park," said Dave Zawada, a USGS research oceanographer and co-author on the study.
The Dry Tortugas' population made shorter migrations than that typically seen among other green turtle populations around the world; this was only the second published study showing green turtles taking up residence at feeding grounds located quite near their breeding grounds.
"We hope to keep pushing the frontier of what is known about in-water sea turtle habitat use, as this type of scientific information is vital for understanding whether conservation measures are effective," said Hart.
The study, "Habitat use of breeding green turtles Chelonia mydas tagged in Dry Tortugas National Park: Making use of local and regional MPAs," was published this week in the journal Biological Conservation.
About Green Sea Turtles
Although their young feed on jellyfish and other invertebrates, adult green sea turtles feed on seagrasses and algae, making them the only herbivorous (vegetarian) species of sea turtle. In fact, their name comes from their greenish colored fat, which is thought to be caused by their diet.
Green sea turtles are found around the world in three main types of habitat: nesting beaches, open ocean, and shallow water such as lagoons and shoals where they feed on marine grasses and algae found on the seafloor (‘benthic’ habitat). Within the U.S., green sea turtles are found from North Carolina to Florida, Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Their breeding populations in Florida are listed as endangered, but all other populations are listed as threatened.
The nesting season for green turtles lasts throughout the summer, but is most concentrated in June and July. During nesting season, females nest at roughly two-week intervals, producing an average of five nests or "clutches." Each clutch contains an average of 135 eggs, which will hatch after incubating for about 2 months.
Reporters: Do you want to accompany a USGS field crew as they measure flooding? Please contact Ayla Ault at 815-756-9207.
U.S. Geological Survey field crews are measuring record flooding on rivers and streams across most of Illinois.
At least ten USGS streamgages in Illinois that have more than 20 years of record, have measured the highest flood levels ever recorded. More record levels are expected as flooding moves downstream. USGS crews are expected to track the movement of the floodwaters down the Illinois River, the Rock Rivers, and major tributaries over the next few days. Many of the Illinois River floodwaters are expected to exceed records and may result in major flooding that overtop levees. There are 53 USGS streamgages currently at or above flood levels as a result of the rains that began on Tuesday, April 16.
USGS scientists are collecting critical streamflow data that are vital for protection of life, property and the environment. These data are used by the National Weather Service to develop flood forecasts, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to manage flood control, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and local agencies in their flood response activities. More information is available on the USGS Illinois Water Science Center website.
"These measurements are made using state-of-the-art equipment, including hydroacoustic meters, which gives the USGS the ability to make accurate and reliable streamflow measurements under extreme flow conditions," said USGS hydrologist Gary Johnson. "Accurate streamflow measurements are critical for emergency managers to make important decisions on how to protect life and property."
There are about 250 USGS-operated streamgages in Illinois that measure water levels, streamflow, and rainfall. When flooding occurs, USGS crews make numerous discharge measurements to verify the data USGS provides to federal, state, and local agencies, as well as to the public.
For more than 125 years, the USGS has monitored flow in selected streams and rivers across the U.S. The information is routinely used for water supply and management, monitoring floods and droughts, bridge and road design, determination of flood risk, and for many recreational activities.
Access current flood and high flow conditions across the country by visiting the USGS WaterWatch website. Receive instant, customized updates about water conditions in your area via text message or email by signing up for USGS WaterAlert.
VANCOUVER, Wash. – The U.S. Geological Survey Cascades Volcano Observatory is cancelling its planned May 4th public open house due to to the federal budget sequestration.
USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory has hosted a public open house every few years at its offices on the east side of Vancouver since moving there in 2002, but with major budget cuts this year, cannot support "extracurricular" activities on top of the most critical work of studying, monitoring, and responding to volcanic eruptions in the Cascade Range and around the world.
During past day-long open houses, USGS-CVO staff takes a break from regular research and monitoring duties and provides demonstrations of volcano monitoring equipment such as seismographs, specialized GPS units, and infrared sensors. Staff members discuss results of recent local to global volcano research, eruption response, hazard maps, and ash and rock samples using a variety of visual aids. Volcano learning activities for children are a major attraction, as is the opportunity for the public to bring in rock samples for identification.
CVO open houses are a rare opportunity for the public to meet one-on-one with the approximately 55 people who work at the observatory, and learn about the critical work done monitoring active volcanoes. The most recent public open house was in May, 2010. About 1,200 people attended the event.
The cancellation is being taken at a time when the USGS is making tough choices on how best to implement the mandatory budget cuts. The USGS has implemented a hiring freeze; eliminated or significantly reduced participation in all scientific conferences; cancelled all non-mandatory, non-mission critical training; directed a review of contracts and grants to determine which should be delayed, re-scoped, or terminated; and may have to furlough employees for an undetermined amount of time.
The USGS will re-evaluate the future of USGS-CVO open houses as the budget allows. Please continue to check for updated information about Cascade volcanoes and future observatory events on the CVO website.
BOISE, Idaho— Among the diverse array of western habitats available to them, greater sage-grouse require sagebrush-dominated landscapes with extremely minimal levels of human land use according to USGS researchers who detailed the scientific results in a recently published report about the ecological conditions needed by this large, ground-dwelling bird.
The science, published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, was done to describe and accurately map the basic combination of factors necessary to support sage-grouse across large expanses of its range. Scientists compiled and analyzed information about the environment surrounding 3,000 active breeding areas, known as leks, within a 355,000 square–mile portion of the sage-grouse’s historic range. Environmental factors examined within a 3-mile radius of each lek were climate, land cover, and densities of roads, power lines, pipelines, and communication towers.
Ninety-nine percent of active leks were in landscapes with less than 3 percent of a developed category of land cover, and all lands surrounding leks were less than 14 percent developed. Further, most leks were in regions characterized by broad expanses of sagebrush and containing less than 25 percent agricultural activity. The location of leks relative to some specific types of infrastructure also was documented. For example, the average number of communication towers per square mile was 0.2 for the study area as a whole, 0.04 for active leks, but 7.1 for locations where sage-grouse occurred historically but not presently.
"We knew, from previously published science, that human activity affected sage-grouse, but our results in this new research showed that most leks were even absent from areas that had very low levels of human activity," said Steve Knick, a USGS scientist and the lead author of the report.
The importance of sagebrush as habitat for sage-grouse also was affirmed by this study. The vast majority of leks occurred where at least 40 percent of the surrounding landscape was dominated by sagebrush. Furthermore, almost all leks were in areas containing few conifer trees or few grassland expanses. These results are consistent with other evidence that sage-grouse are vulnerable to decreases in sagebrush due to the spread of invasive grasses in some areas and due to the encroachment of junipers and other conifer trees in other areas.
Leks also occurred in drier-than-average regions within a small temperature and precipitation range, suggesting that predicted changes in climate may cause lek locations to change depending on where there are optimal arid conditions.
Ecological connections among sage-grouse populations across the large study area also were described because species with multiple interconnected populations are more likely to persist than those with isolated populations. Large populations within the interior of the sage-grouse range were highly interconnected. In contrast, smaller populations along the range periphery often were connected to only one or two neighboring populations. Habitat changes in the connecting corridors that limit or disrupt sage-grouse movement could further isolate these peripheral populations, putting them at increased risk of loss.
Greater sage-grouse currently occupy approximately half of their historic range across western North America. They are a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act because of habitat and population fragmentation coupled with inadequate regulatory mechanism to control development in critical areas. Most of the sagebrush habitat used by sage-grouse is under public land management, with 50 percent managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
The publication is Knick, S.T., S.E. Hanser, and K.L. Preston. 2013. Modeling ecological minimum requirements for distribution of greater sage-grouse leks: implications for population connectivity across their western range, U.S.A. Ecology and Evolution.
Just in time for Earth Day, the U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the winners of the "App-lifying USGS Earth Science Data" Challenge. The USGS invited developers, information scientists, biologists/ecologists, and scientific data visualization specialists to create applications for selected USGS datasets, presenting them in innovative and informative new ways.
The winner for Best Overall App is "TaxaViewer" by the rOpenSci group based out of California. TaxaViewer is a Web interface to a mashup of data from the USGS-sponsored Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), the Phylotastic taxonomic Name service, the Global Invasive Species Database, Phylomatic, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. TaxaViewer allows the user to view species-specific taxonomic data, invasive status, phylogenetic relationships, and species occurrence records.
The Popular Choice App award goes to the "Species Comparison Tool" by Kimberly Sparks of Raleigh, N.C., which allows users to explore the USGS Gap Analysis Program distribution and/or range of two species concurrently. In addition, the application's "swipe tool" provides the ability to make visual comparisons of the maps. The application also incorporates ITIS data and provides external links to NatureServe species information.
"These applications provide us and, more importantly, the public with easy-to-use tools for accessing and viewing taxonomic and biogeographic data," said Kevin Gallagher, USGS Associate Director of Core Science Systems. "The innovative and thoughtful ideas represented in these applications are great examples of how complex data can be made more accessible."
The Challenge was open for submissions from January 9, 2013, to April 1, 2013. Entries spanned a cross-section of topics including taxonomic classification, conservation status of species, the range and distribution of animals, and one innovative app integrating social media with species occurrence records.
"We were extremely impressed with the caliber of applications we received for this Challenge," said Cheryl Morris, Director of USGS Core Science Analytics and Synthesis (CSAS). "The hard work and innovation that went into these applications is evident in their popularity, usability, and goal of making USGS data more readily accessible to all users."
Winners were selected based on relevance to the USGS and CSAS missions, innovation in design, and overall ease of use of the application. Utilizing the Challege.gov platform, the general public chose the winner of the Popular Choice App award.
More information about the winning applications can be found at the CSAS Challenge site. All of the submissions can be accessed on the App-lifying USGS Earth Science Data Challenge site.
Learn more about USGS Core Science Analytics and Synthesis programs and activities.
Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation or BISON is the only system of its kind; a unique, web-based Federal resource for finding species in the U. S. and territories. Its size is unprecedented, offering more than 100 million mapped records of nearly every living species nationwide and growing. And the vast majority of the records are specific locations, not just county or state records.
What’s more, BISON provides an "Area of Interest" search capability in which users can query by drawing the exact boundary around their area of interest, down to and including towns, villages, or even much smaller areas such as parks. For instance, New York City's Central Park has more than 100,000 "species occurrences" recorded in BISON, with each species noted in detail. Other BISON search options include querying the species by scientific or common name, year range, state, county, basis of record, or provider institution.
As for the results, BISON displays them in both an interactive map and a list format. Users can click on each species occurrence point to retrieve more information, such as the institution providing the data, the collector, the date collected, and whether it was from a collection or an observation. Further, occurrences can be dynamically visualized with more than 50 other layers of environmental information in the system. Extensive web services are also available for direct connections to other systems.
"The USGS is proud to announce this monumental resource", said Kevin Gallagher, Associate Director, Core Science Systems," and this is a testament to the power of combining the efforts of hundreds of thousands of professional and citizen scientists into a resource that uses Big Data and Open Data principles to deliver biodiversity information for sustaining the Nation's environmental capital".
"BISON is destined to become an indispensable toolkit to manage species occurrence data to support scientific, educational, and policy-making activities in the US", Dr. Erick Mata, Executive Director of the Encyclopedia of Life explained. "This is highly complementary and synergistic with EOL's efforts to raise awareness and understanding of living nature."
"With BISON, the USGS takes a big step toward making biodiversity data held within Federal agencies easier to find and use", added Mary Klein, President & CEO of NatureServe. "I am enthusiastic about future opportunities to work with USGS to increase collaboration among Federal, state and private data holders."
USGS Core Science Systems Mission Area, which developed the resource, expects that BISON users will be broad-based and include land managers, researchers, refuge managers, citizen scientists, agriculture professionals, fisheries managers, water resource managers, educators, and more.
Land managers, for instance, might be looking for a piece of land to purchase for conservation—but first they want to know what species have been documented for that parcel. BISON will tell them after only a few mouse clicks.
BISON serves as the U.S. Node of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and will form an integral part of EcoINFORMA, the information delivery strategy in "Sustaining Environmental Capital: Protecting Society and the Economy," a recent report by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).
"BISON responds directly to a key need PCAST pointed out in 'Sustaining Environmental Capital' - to make Federal environmental data available, inter-operable, and usable to the public," said PCAST member Rosina Bierbaum, "We look forward to this 'biodiversity' hub being supplemented by complementary ecological data hubs by other Federal partners, to further the goal of helping communities across the Nation make increasingly wise planning and management decisions."
BISON already includes millions of points from the Federal investment in biodiversity research. It is formally cooperating with other Federal agencies to greatly expand the delivery of federally funded biodiversity data for the greatest possible good. Hundreds of thousands of citizen and professional scientists have collected the data in BISON. Non-governmental organizations, state and local governments, universities, and many others are also participating in this enormous undertaking.
The USGS has built and maintains BISON, which is hosted on the massive Federal computing infrastructure at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The USGS Core Science Analytics and Synthesis program within Core Science Systems is home to BISON and focuses on innovative ways to manage and deliver scientific data and information. The program implements and promotes standards and best practices to enable efficient, data-driven science for decision-making that supports a rapid response to emerging natural resource issues. One of the ways this is accomplished is by developing national data products that increase our understanding of the Earth’s natural systems.
The report and maps are posted online.
NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. – Eight percent of more than 5,000 wells tested across Pennsylvania contain groundwater with levels of arsenic at or above federal standards set for public drinking water, while an additional 12 percent – though not exceeding standards – show elevated levels of arsenic.
These findings, along with maps depicting areas in the state most likely to have elevated levels of arsenic in groundwater, are part of a recently released U.S. Geological Survey study done in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Environmental Protection.
The results highlight the importance of private well owners testing and potentially treating their water. While public water supplies are treated to ensure that water reaching the tap of households meets federal drinking water standards, private wells are unregulated in Pennsylvania, and owners are responsible for testing and treating their own water.
For this study, USGS scientists compiled data collected between 1969 and 2007 from industrial, public, and private wells. Arsenic levels, along with other groundwater quality and environmental factors, were used to generate statewide and regional maps that predict the probability of elevated arsenic. The study examined groundwater from carbonate, crystalline, and shale/sandstone bedrock aquifers, and from shallow glacial sediment aquifers. Similar maps have been produced for other states.
"This research is not intended to predict arsenic levels for individual wells; its purpose is to predict the probability of elevated levels of arsenic in groundwater to help public health efforts in Pennsylvania," said USGS scientist Eliza Gross, who led the study. "The study results and associated probability maps provide water-resource managers and health officials with useful data as they consider management actions in areas where groundwater is most likely to contain elevated levels of arsenic."
The Pennsylvania Department of Health plans to use the maps as an educational tool to inform health professionals and citizens of the Commonwealth about the possibility of elevated arsenic in drinking water wells and to help improve the health of residents, particularly in rural communities.
Arsenic occurs naturally and, in Pennsylvania, is most common in shallow glacial and shale/sandstone type aquifers, particularly those containing pyrite minerals. Arsenic can also result from human activities. Geologic conditions, such as fractures, and chemical factors in groundwater, such as low oxygen, extreme pH, and salinity, can cause arsenic to leach from rocks, become mobile, and contaminate wells distant from the source. Groundwater with elevated arsenic levels – more than 4 micrograms per liter -- can be found in scattered locations throughout Pennsylvania.
Arsenic in drinking water has been linked to several types of cancer, reproductive problems, diabetes, a weakened immune system, and developmental delays in children. Arsenic can be reduced or eliminated in tap water through treatment.
Private well owners can find testing and other information on Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Arsenic in Drinking Water website.
More than 50 years of water-quality data in the Piceance Basin are now available from the U.S. Geological Survey in two new reports.
The need for this baseline water-resources assessment was identified by energy producers and local governments to address concerns regarding potential changes to surface-water and groundwater resources as large-scale energy development and population growth occurs in the Piceance Basin. Data from 1,545 wells collected from1946 through 2009 were compiled, evaluated, and compared with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking-water standards, and are published in a USGS groundwater quality report, available online. Additionally, 347 surface-water sites were compared to EPA drinking-water and Colorado State standards, and are contained in a separate surface-water report.
Groundwater findings include:
- Recharge—the downward movement of surface water to groundwater—to most wells was derived from precipitation.
- Dissolved-solids concentrations commonly exceeded the EPA secondary drinking-water standard. Dissolved solids consist of minerals, organic matter, and nutrients that have dissolved in water. The major components of dissolved solids of natural waters include bicarbonate, calcium, sulfate, hydrogen, silica, chlorine, magnesium, sodium, potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus in the form of phosphate.
- Arsenic concentrations were higher in low oxygen groundwater and likely from naturally occurring rock.
- Nitrate levels likely associated with septic systems, animal manure, or fertilizer.
- The majority of methane detections were found near the Mamm Creek-Divide Creek area.
Surface-water findings include:
- Salinity and selenium concentrations and loads—a primary concern for water managers in the Lower Gunnison River basin—are generally trending downward.
- Approximately 30 percent of phosphorus samples exceeded EPA’s recommended standard.
- Overall results varied by site.
“Data gaps were identified and suggestions provided to develop long-term regional-scale monitoring strategies to fill data gaps, minimize information redundancies, and to assist managers in making informed decisions regarding land and water resources,” said David Brown, Western Colorado Office Chief for the USGS Colorado Water Science Center.
This voluntary effort between energy producers and local, state, and federal agencies inventoried existing water resources in the Piceance Basin. The resulting data repository is the most comprehensive collection of Piceance Basin water-quality sampling information available in a single location.
The USGS studies were done in cooperation with (in alphabetical order): Antero Resources; Bureau of Land Management; Bureau of Reclamation; Chevron Corporation; Cities of Grand Junction and Rifle, Colo.; Colorado Department of Agriculture; Colorado Department of Natural Resources; Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment; Colorado Division of Wildlife—River Watch; Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission; Colorado River Water Conservation District; Counties of Delta, Garfield, and Rio Blanco, Colo.; EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc.; Gunnison Energy Corp.; National Park Service; Natural Soda, Inc.; North Fork River Improvement Association; Oxy Petroleum Corporation; Petroleum Development Corp.; Shell Oil Company; Solvay Chemicals; Towns of Carbondale, De Beque, Palisade, Parachute, Rangely, and Silt, Colo.; U.S. Forest Service; West Divide Water Conservancy District; and Williams Companies, Inc.
The U.S. Geological Survey will award up to $4 million in grants for earthquake hazards research in 2014.
"The USGS has a long-standing grants program that has supported fresh and cutting-edge ideas all in an effort to reduce earthquake losses and protect communities," said USGS Senior Science Advisor Bill Leith. "We are looking forward to seeing the new proposals for 2014 and continuing to invest in innovative projects from experts across the nation and the world."
Interested researchers can apply online at GRANTS.GOV under funding opportunity number G13AS00029. Applications are due June 6, 2013.
Each year the USGS awards earthquake hazards research grants to universities, state geological surveys and private institutions. Past projects included cataloging earthquakes in southern California to better prepare emergency responders, the public and the media about earthquakes; providing seismic hazard estimates so communities and critical institutions can engineer their buildings and roads to be structurally sound; and analyzing data on ground shaking to help minimize damage.
A complete list of funded projects and reports can be found on the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program external research support website.
A team of African and North American scientists led by the U.S. Geological Survey and NatureServe, a conservation non-profit organization, has created a series of continent-wide ecosystem maps that offer the most detailed portrayals of Africa's natural setting yet produced. The new maps and related data on landforms, geology, bioclimates, and vegetation can be used across Africa for conservation planning and resource management, as well as for impact assessments of climate change and changes in land use, such as agriculture, deforestation, and urbanization.
"This was a multi-organizational, international collaboration to create new earth science datasets for the entire continent at finer resolutions than ever before," said Matt Larsen, USGS Associate Director for Climate and Land Use Change. "An added benefit is that this information about ecosystem conditions can be put to many different uses. It will have tremendous utility beyond ecosystem assessments."
USGS and NatureServe researchers collaborated with the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), based in Nairobi, Kenya. RCMRD hosted two workshops where invited experts from many African nations developed a new classification of African ecosystems and provided location data for the newly classified ecosystems.
Overall, a total of 37 experts from 18 countries worked together to formulate the ecosystem classifications (126 distinct ecosystems were mapped) and produce the maps at a base resolution of 90 meters.
"This much improved baseline of Africa's ecosystem conditions has the potential for more accurate carbon assessment studies in Africa," observed USGS scientist Roger Sayre, lead author of the publication.
Determination of biological carbon stocks in ecosystems is an emerging science. Currently, carbon stocks are assessed in general biome categories like forests, grasses, shrublands, wetlands, deserts, and agricultural lands. The increased classification resolution supplied by the new African ecosystems maps will facilitate a more robust assignment of carbon inventories to a greater, more precise number of biological sources.
The Association of American Geographers (AAG) provided key support for the final publication. The publication is available in digital form from the USGS.
A new map of standardized terrestrial ecosystems of Africa
2013, Sayre, Roger; Comer, Patrick; Hak, Jon; Josse, Carmen; Bow, Jacquie; et al.
African Geographical Review
Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Geological Survey will work together to evaluate whether a small unmanned aircraft can save state wildlife managers time, money and offer a safer and enhanced alternative to gather greater sage-grouse data.
During the media-only event, a USGS crew will field launch the aircraft and media will have the opportunity to take photos, video and get a first-hand look at the system.
Representatives from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the USGS, and the Bureau of Land Management will be available for interviews.
When: Friday, April 12 - 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Please be punctual)
Where: Kremmling, Colo.
- From the intersection of Hwy 9 and Hwy 40, travel north towards Steamboat Springs for approximately 10 miles.
- At the intersection of Grand County Road 25 and Hwy 40, north of Wolford Reservoir, look for a Colorado Parks and Wildlife vehicle parked on the right side of the road. Receive further instructions from there.
- Access and event will take place along a dirt road.
- Dress for variable weather.
- Restroom facilities are not available.
- Bring food, water and other supplies.
- Proper operation of the sUAS requires concentration from the flight crew. Please follow instructions given on-site at all times.
How to participate: By 5 p.m. Thursday, April 11, please confirm your attendance with one of the Media Points of Contact:
If confirming by email, please include your contact information. If the demonstration is cancelled or postponed due to inclement weather, we will notify you as soon as possible.
Additional information about the USGS sUAS program, including video of the aircraft in flight, can be found at online.
For more information about greater sage-grouse, visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website on greater sage-grouse studies.
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Dynamic modeling of sea-level rise, which takes storm wind and wave action into account, paints a much graver picture for some low-lying Pacific islands under climate-change scenarios than the passive computer modeling used in earlier research, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report.
A team led by research oceanographer Curt Storlazzi of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center compared passive "bathtub" inundation models with dynamic models for two of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The team studied Midway, a classic atoll with islands on the shallow (2–8 meters or 6–26 feet deep) atoll rim and a deep, central lagoon, and Laysan, which is higher, with a 20–30 meter (65–98 feet) deep rim and an island in the center of the atoll. Together, the two locations exhibit landforms and coastal features common to many Pacific islands. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they are also among the world’s most important nesting and breeding sites for migratory birds and other wildlife.
"Passive 'bathtub' inundation models typically used to forecast sea-level rise impacts suggest that most of the low-lying atolls in the Pacific Islands will still be above sea level for the next 50-150 years. By taking wave-driven processes into account, we forecast that many of the atolls will be inundated, contaminating freshwater supplies and thus making the islands uninhabitable, much sooner," Storlazzi said.
The team found that at least twice as much land is forecast to be inundated on Midway and Laysan by sea-level rise than was projected by passive models. For example, 91 percent of Midway's Eastern Island is projected to be inundated under a model that takes into account storm and wave activity accompanied by a sea-level rise of 2 meters (6.5 feet), as compared with only 19 percent under passive sea-level-rise models. Storm waves on Midway are also projected to be three to four times higher than they are today, because more deep-water wave energy could propagate over the atoll rim and larger wind-driven waves could develop on the atoll.
"This report demonstrates the future threat to refuges with the Monument, and the potential impact on nesting seabirds, endangered monk seals and green sea turtles will be considered as we plan for the future," said Doug Staller, the Service's Superintendent of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
These findings have importance not only for island wildlife on the largely uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Storlazzi said, but for the tens of thousands of people who live on other low-lying Pacific Island groups such as those found in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia. Because the models attempt to characterize how much land will be washed over by storm waves even if it is not permanently inundated, they offer tools for forecasting where agricultural land may be damaged by repeated saltwater overwash, as well as where groundwater may be contaminated by saltwater. The findings suggest that inundation and impacts to infrastructure and terrestrial habitats will occur at lower values of predicted sea-level rise, and thus sooner in the 21st century, than suggested by passive map-based "bathtub" inundation models.
The report, "Forecasting the Impact of Storm Waves and Sea-Level Rise on Midway Atoll and Laysan Island within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument—A Comparison of Passive Versus Dynamic Inundation Models," is available online.
Ann Arbor, Mich. – The U.S. Geological Survey awarded a contract last Friday for the construction of a large research vessel for Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior to Burger Boat Company of Manitowoc, Wis.
The vessel will replace the 38-year-old Grayling, bringing the USGS Great Lakes Science Center (GLSC) large vessel fleet up-to-date. The new Grayling will be stationed at the USGS base in Cheboygan, Mich., and will incorporate modern marine standards and state-of-the-art technology to more safely and effectively conduct fisheries research.
"I am delighted to have achieved this important milestone that will benefit the Great Lakes region for many decades," said USGS GLSC Director Russell Strach. "This investment would not have been possible without the support from many key partners. The new research vessel will come fully equipped with 21st century laboratories and scientific instrumentation to support fishery science for the Great Lakes."
The funding for this expenditure was accrued from two prior appropriations and held in an account that was not affected by the sequester.
The replacement vessel is expected to be a commercial grade 78-foot vessel, and will be designed and constructed for a 40 to 50-year service life. This vessel will be capable of performing critical scientific and mission-related tasks, including dragging nets along the lake bottom, catching fish, and using sound-waves to detect fish and assess their abundance.
"The entire Burger team is very excited to be awarded this significant contract," said Jim Ruffolo, President and CEO of Burger Boat Company. "The Grayling will further reinforce Burger’s commitment to designing and constructing quality vessels that meet each owner’s specific requirements, whether they are custom yachts or commercial vessels."
This new contract will create additional highly skilled shipbuilding jobs at the Manitowoc shipyard, and the project will help support numerous companies that supply raw materials and equipment for the project.
For over 50 years the USGS GLSC has operated a unique and valuable deepwater fish ecology and assessment program that is the foundation for fisheries management throughout the Great Lakes.
Burger, at 150 years old, is one of the world's oldest shipyards. From its facility in Manitowoc, Wis., Burger's craftsmen have built hundreds of high quality vessels as long as 260 feet (80 meters) that can be found in ports around the world. Today, Burger continues its legacy of designing and building vessels to the highest standard from its fully updated shipyard.
JMS Naval Architects of Mystic, Conn., developed the preliminary design of the new Grayling.
The USGS GLSC maintains a fleet of fishery research vessels on each of the Great Lakes to meet the scientific research needs of state, tribal, and federal resource managers for understanding and effectively managing the Great Lakes fishery.
For more information on the USGS GLSC, visit their website.
President Obama's fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget request for the U.S. Geological Survey is $1.167 billion, an increase of $98.8 million above the 2012 enacted level, reflecting the Administration's commitment to scientific research and development as the foundation for innovation, socio-economic well-being, environmental sustainability, and sound decisionmaking. This includes science to support the safe and responsible development of domestic energy, protect critical water resources and ecosystems, respond to natural disasters, and advance our understanding and resilience to the effects of climate change.
The proposed 2014 USGS budget priorities include studying energy resources and environmental issues; advancing water monitoring and availability research; supporting the nationwide streamgage network; improving the capacity to quickly and effectively respond to natural hazards; providing information needed to protect priority ecosystems; and enhancing climate change research that is user-focused to address specific needs of natural resource managers across the landscape.
"The USGS prides itself in providing relevant and reliable Earth science, and our range of specialized expertise makes us a leader in supporting the President's focus on research and development," said acting USGS Director Suzette Kimball. "Starting with science is the foundation for making decisions that ensure the safety of our Nation and a robust and resilient economy. The proposed budget supports programs that are unique to the USGS, ultimately enhancing understanding of our land, its resources, and potential hazards that face us."
Proposed USGS key increases are summarized below. For more detailed information on the President's proposed 2014 budget, visit the USGS Budget, Planning, and Integration website.
New Energy Frontier
To ensure a robust and secure energy future for the Nation, President Obama emphasizes an "all-of-the-above" strategy, and the USGS has an important contribution in each component of that strategy. Proposed funding increases totaling $4.0 million will support the exploration of geothermal resources on Federal lands as well as research to support mitigation of the impacts of wind energy on wildlife. A total of $18.6 million, an increase of $13.0 million, will support interagency science collaboration between the USGS, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency to understand and minimize potential adverse environmental, health, and safety impacts of shale gas development through hydraulic fracturing.
As competition for water resources grows, so does the need for better information about water quality and quantity. Funding in the 2014 proposed budget includes an increase of $7.2 million to fund more than 400 streamgages that would enhance the ability to monitor high priority sites sensitive to drought, flooding, and potential climate change effects. The budget also includes $22.5 million for WaterSMART, an initiative focused on a sustainable water strategy to address the Nation's water challenges. WaterSMART includes the combined efforts of the USGS and the Bureau of Reclamation.
In the past year, the USGS responded to hurricanes Sandy and Isaac, wildfires ravaging the West, worldwide earthquakes, historical floods, and many other natural disasters. The budget proposes $2.5 million to improve rapid disaster response, allowing the USGS to better provide timely and effective science to minimize hazard risks to populations and infrastructure. Funding support includes improvements in early warning and scenario products for earthquakes, eruptions of volcanic ash, landslides and debris flows. In addition, an increase of $1.2 million is proposed to expand seismic networks along the Central and Eastern United States and improve the suite of USGS products that provide "situational awareness" for responders to gauge earthquake impacts and plan response activities.
USGS scientists conduct research and monitoring to understand how ecosystems are structured and function, helping improve sustainable stewardship of the Nation's natural resources. The 2014 budget request includes increases totaling $16.6 million for priority ecosystem science. This includes research to control and manage invasive species, such as Asian carp in the Great Lakes and the Burmese python in the Everglades. The proposed budget includes strong support for ecosystem restoration in the California Bay Delta, Chesapeake Bay, Columbia River, Everglades, Great Lakes, Klamath River, Puget Sound, and Upper Mississippi River as well as efforts to better understand and account for ecosystem services in decisionmaking.
Climate Change Science
The FY 2014 budget request includes a total of $67.8 million for the Science for Adapting to a Changing Climate initiative that advances understanding and enhances resilience in the face of changing conditions. Funding increases for the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) and the eight DOI Climate Science Centers (CSCs) will provide applied science and tools to support adaptive and resilient management of natural resources on public and tribal lands, help facilitate coordination of climate change research across Federal agencies, and improve understanding of nationwide challenges such as sea-level rise and drought. Increases in the Climate Research and Development Program will improve understanding of current and future impacts change and needs specific to regional areas. Funding for the Biological Sequestration program in 2014 will advance methodologies and models needed to complete the national biological carbon sequestration assessment and provide science and tools for land and natural resource management.
Land Imaging Satellites
With Landsat 8 successfully launched in February, the USGS is preparing for the handover of operational responsibility from NASA and will continue to operate Landsat ground systems for receiving, processing, and disseminating the valuable imagery. The USGS will also be working with NASA to analyze user requirements and develop a successor mission to Landsat 8, with timing and configuration designed to minimize the risk of a gap in the unparalleled 41-year historical record of this data. Funding to begin work on the successor mission is provided in the 2014 budget for NASA, which will be responsible for the operation, building, and launching of Landsat-class land imaging satellites going forward, in partnership with the USGS.
Critical Minerals and Rare Earth Elements
Many existing and emerging technologies that are important to our economy and national security are generating unprecedented demand for critical minerals. Ensuring an adequate supply of critical minerals depends on learning how they form and where they are most likely to be found in the Earth's crust. An increase of $1.0 million is proposed specifically for USGS research on rare earth elements, which are a type of critical mineral. An additional $1.1 million is proposed to expand research on other high priority minerals critical to American manufacturing.
Additional Science Priorities
The 2014 budget would expand USGS youth programs and partnerships with a proposed increase for the development of a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, an element of the Youth Stewardship and America's Great Outdoors Initiatives. The budget request would support studies that address environmental impacts of uranium mining as well as emerging contaminants and pathogens. The USGS component of the Big Earth Data Initiative will support standardizing and optimizing the management of data from Earth observations systems, such as water and wildlife monitoring networks, operated by the Department of the Interior to support decisionmaking, scientific discovery, and technological innovation. Increased funding will be provided to begin implementation of the 3D Elevation program, responding to a growing need for high-quality topographic data and a wide range of other three-dimensional representations of the Nation's natural and constructed features to meet needs such as quantification of flood risk and coastal vulnerability to storms.
The proposed USGS budget for 2014 includes reductions based on careful and difficult consideration for balancing national Earth science and technology priorities and needs. Proposed reductions include mineral resources research, the Water Resource Research Institutes, the National Civil Application Program, North American Data Buy, and internal administrative costs.
Reporters: Study results will be presented at a public meeting hosted by the Verde River Basin Partnership on Thursday, April 11, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Camp Verde Multi-Use Complex Auditorium. Please contact Jennifer LaVista to reserve a seat.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. —The streamflow of the Verde River—one of Arizona's largest streams with year-round flow—declined from 1910 to 2005 as the result of human stresses, primarily groundwater pumping, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study. The study's findings suggest that streamflow reductions will continue and may increase in the future.
Water demands in the Verde Valley have increased because of the growing population in the area. Water is pumped from the ground and diverted from the Verde River to meet these needs, which has raised concerns about past, present, and future human-induced stresses on water resources.
"The results of the study emphasize our basic understanding of hydrologic systems, which is that when water is removed by being pumped through wells, it is no longer available in other parts of the system," said USGS hydrologist Bradley Garner. "This study is important because it allows us to examine human-caused stresses, namely groundwater pumping, independently from other factors that change over time, such as annual precipitation rates."
The study used the Northern Arizona Regional Groundwater Flow Model to estimate how human stresses on the hydrologic system in and around the Verde Valley affected streamflow in the Verde River from 1910 to 2005. Future conditions were also examined using three hypothetical human-stress conditions for 2005 to 2110. The computer model used by the study simulates how recharge from rainfall and snowmelt moves through the region"s aquifers and eventually provides water to streams and rivers. The full report and an accompanying USGS Fact Sheet are available online.
"Groundwater flow models provide a sophisticated tool to help communities responsibly manage, develop, and use their groundwater resources," said William M. Alley, Ph.D., Director of Science and Technology for the National Ground Water Association. "Studies that quantify movement of water between groundwater and surface water systems can help in establishing a scientific basis for new management strategies."
Like many regions in the West, the population of the Verde Valley is growing rapidly. Between 2000 and 2010, Verde Valley grew by 13 percent. Verde Valley municipalities such as Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Cottonwood, and Sedona pump groundwater to meet the needs of a growing population. In Arizona, groundwater provides about 43 percent of the State’s water supply.
Groundwater pumping has the potential to reduce flows to streams and rivers that are hydrologically connected to the underlying aquifers. Through a process known as capture, groundwater pumping can intercept groundwater that would otherwise have flowed to connected streams or draws flows from streams into the aquifer. For this reason, questions have been raised about the effects of groundwater pumping on the Verde River, which provides wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.