Water Quality

Water sample from last wetland in filtering system in use on farm.

This page gives you access to different types of information covering water quality, especially as related to agriculture. For a broader coverage, the U. S. Geological Survey provides answers to frequently asked questions on water, including water quality and contamination and pollution.

Bioassessment of Water Resources
USDA NAL. Water and Agriculture Information Center.
View the results of a dynamic search in NAL's databases for article and book citations on bioassessment of water resources.

PubAg:  Articles

AGRICOLA:  Books


Fate and Transport of Nutrients: Phosphorus
USDA. Natural Resource Conservation Service.
Discusses the soil phosphorus cycle, transport processes, the effect of phosphorus sources on fate and transport, impacts of phosphorus on the environment and use-efficiency to decrease negative impacts.


Agricultural Phosphorus and Eutrophication (PDF | 432 KB)
USDA. Agricultural Research Service.
Describes source and transport management and targeting remediation methods to reduce the loss of phosphorus in agricultural runoff.


Agricultural Chemicals
DOI. United States Geological Survey. Toxic Substances Hydrology Program.
Delivers research data and reports "characterizing the processes that affect dispersal of chemicals in the atmosphere, ground water, and surface water; identifying persistent degradation products; and developing methods to measure these compounds in water samples at environmentally relevant concentrations."


Role of Nutrient Loading and Eutrophication in Estuarine Ecology (PDF | 756 KB)
DHHS. NIEHS. Environmental Health Perspectives.
Article from the Oct 2001 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives outlines the process of eutrophication and its consequences in estuarine ecosystems.


Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico: Progress Towards the Completion of an Integrated Assessment
DOC. NOAA. National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.
Describes the assessment process and provides links to public comments and reports generated by the assessment.

Nutrient Pollution Policy and Data
Environmental Protection Agency.
Reports, tools, data and more on nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) in water.


USGS Water Quality Information
DOI. United States Geological Survey.
Provides links to publications, data, techniques, and USGS laboratories and programs supporting research in the quality of surface water and groundwater.


NIFA National Water Program
USDA. National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
A cooperative national program to improve the quality of the nation's water resources. The program is a partnership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and land grant colleges and universities.


National Water-Quality Assessment Program
DOI. United States Geological Survey.
The NAWQA program "develops long-term consistent and comparable information on streams, ground water, and aquatic ecosystems to support sound management and policy decisions."


USGA Nutrient Loading for the Mississippi River and Subbasins
DOI. United States Geological Survey.
"Provides a range of scientific information to support management decision-making aimed at reducing excess nutrients in the Mississippi River Basin and Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico." The previous site and research can be found at Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico Studies.


Microbiological Methods and Online Publications
Environmental Protection Agency.
"EPA scientists have developed a variety of methods to detect, characterize and study bacteria, protozoans, viruses and coliphage. These methods are used by EPA and state and regional water quality managers to protect human health by keeping drinking water safe."


Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Watch
DOC. NOAA. National Coastal Data Development Center.
"Develops new near-real time map products using shipboard measurements of bottom dissolved oxygen in the North-central Gulf of Mexico."


National Center for Water Quality Research
Heidelberg College.
"Commissioned by the United States Congress, the NCWQR supports the sustainable use of soil and water resources and helps protect human health and the ecological integrity of aquatic ecosystems through research, monitoring, education, and outreach."


Global Environment Monitoring System
UNEP. Global Environment Monitoring System.
"The United Nations Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS) Water Programme is dedicated to providing environmental water quality data and information of the highest integrity, accessibility and interoperability. These data are used in water assessments and capacity building initiatives around the world."


Water Quality
DOE. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Hydropower offers clean, renewable energy, but water level fluctuations can affect water quality, due to changes in the flow of rivers and streams. Common water quality variables include changes in temperature, dissolved oxygen and gases, nutrients, and turbidity, which impact river health.


Agricultural Chemicals
DOI. United States Geological Survey. Toxic Substances Hydrology Program.
Delivers research data and reports "characterizing the processes that affect dispersal of chemicals in the atmosphere, ground water, and surface water; identifying persistent degradation products; and developing methods to measure these compounds in water samples at environmentally relevant concentrations."

NRCS Conservation Programs
USDA. NRCS. "NRCS's natural resources conservation programs help people reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damages caused by floods and other natural disasters."


Advisory Committee on Water Information
DOI. USGS. Water Information Coordination Program.
The Advisory Committee on Water Information represents the interests of water-information users and professionals in advising the Federal Government on Federal water-information programs and their effectiveness in meeting the Nation's water-information needs.


Mississippi River Basin and Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia
EPA. Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Force.
Inter-agency site outlines the effects of excess nutrients, from sub-basin and main-stem watersheds to the gulf.


National Onsite Demonstration Program
West Virginia University. National Environmental Services Center.
"Encourages the use of alternative, onsite, and wastewater treatment technologies to protect public health, ensure water quality, and sustain the environment in small and rural communities."


EPA Office of Water
Environmental Protection Agency
"The Office of Water (OW) ensures drinking water is safe, and restores and maintains oceans, watersheds, and their aquatic ecosystems to protect human health, support economic and recreational activities, and provide healthy habitat for fish, plants and wildlife."


Stressor Impacts & Mitigation
DOC. NOAA. Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research.
“Stressors are factors that alter the biological performance or state of an ecosystem. Primary stressors include harmful algal blooms, chemical contaminants, nutrients, and pathogens that impact coastal habitats, resources, and communities. These stressors have been reported in every state and are increasingly affecting coastal, Great Lakes, and inland communities and economies. Chemical contaminants, hypoxic conditions, and the toxins produced by harmful algal blooms, for example, threaten human and animal health, and can cripple local and regional economies by contaminating drinking water for humans and livestock, closing fisheries, repelling tourists, and lowering property values.”

Surf Your Watershed
Environmental Protection Agency.
Offers four ways to find geographic locations of watersheds. For each watershed, furnishes watershed profiles which include watershed health assessments, restoration efforts and monitoring data. Part of the Environmental Protection Agency's Watersheds site where you can find the Catalog of Federal Funding Resources for Watershed Protection and Restoration and Watershed Academy.


Safe Drinking Water Information System
EPA. Envirofacts Data Warehouse.
Contains information about public water systems and their violations of EPA's drinking water regulations, as reported to EPA by the states. This query will help you to find your drinking water supplier and view its violations and enforcement history since 1993.

Standards for Water Body Health
EPA. Office of Water.
Water quality standards (WQS) are provisions of state, territorial, authorized tribal or federal law approved by EPA that describe the desired condition of a water body and the means by which that condition will be protected or achieved. WQS form a legal basis for controlling pollutants entering the waters of the United States.