Water Quality in the Nation’s Streams and Aquifers

Overview of Selected Findings, 1991–2001


U.S. Geological Circular 1265


By Pixie A. Hamilton, Timothy L. Miller, and Donna N. Myers


This circular is available as a pdf.


This report accompanies the publication of the last 15 of 51 river basin and aquifer assessments by the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program during 1991–2001. It highlights selected water-quality findings of regional and national interest through examples from river basins and aquifer systems across the Nation. Forthcoming reports in the USGS series “The Quality of Our Nation’s Waters” will present comprehensive national syntheses of information collected in the 51 study units on pesticides in water, sediment, and fish; volatile organic compounds in major aquifers used for domestic and public supply; nutrients and trace elements in streams and ground water; and aquatic ecology. This report, summaries of the 51 water-quality assessments, and a 1999 national synthesis of information on nutrients and pesticides, are available free of charge as USGS Circulars and on the World Wide Web at


Information to Manage, Protect, and Restore Water Quality

Water Quality and its Connection to Land Use—Agricultural and Urban Sources
of Nonpoint Pollution

Effects of Natural Features and Land-Management Practices

Complex Contaminant Patterns—Mixtures, Breakdown Products, and Seasonality

Interactions Among Water, Air, and Aquatic Ecosystems

Changes in Water Quality Over Time

The NAWQA Program

For Additional Information

Contacts for additional information or questions:

Chief, NAWQA Program
U.S. Geological Survey
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, M.S. 413
Reston, VA 20192


Donna N. Myers, 703.648.5715,

Timothy L. Miller, 703.648.6862,

Pixie A. Hamilton, 804.261.2602,

For sale by


U.S. Geological Survey,

Information Services
Box 25286, Denver Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225


For more information about the USGS and its products:

Telephone: 1-888-ASK-USGS
World Wide Web:


The text and graphics are presented here in pdf format (print quality). The full report is 18.1MB.


If you have Adobe® Acrobat® or Adobe® Acrobat® Reader® installed on your computer, you may view and print the PDF version of this report. Acrobat Reader, is a free download it from Adobe Systems, Inc.  Users with disabilities can view information concerning accessibility at


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