The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has a long-standing reputation for providing unbiased scientific leadership and excellence in the field of ground-water hydrology and geological research. This report provides a framework for continuing this scientific leadership by describing six interdisciplinary topics for research opportunities in ground-water science in the USGS. These topics build on recommendations of the National Research Council (2000) contained in the report, “Investigating Groundwater Systems on Regional and National Scales,” and emphasize research topics that would benefit from the integrated capabilities of all parts of the USGS. Understanding the relations between ground water and the geological characteristics of aquifers within which ground water resides, and the relation of ground water to surface-water resources and terrestrial and aquatic biota is increasingly important and presents a considerable opportunity to draw on expertise throughout the USGS, including the science disciplines of biology, geography, geology, and hydrology. The National Research Council (2000) also emphasizes that USGS regional and national assessments of ground-water resources should focus on aspects that foster the sustainability of the resource. The need for a comprehensive program addressing the sustainability of ground-water resources can be stated very concisely—we need enough ground water of good quality to sustain our lives, our economy, and our aquatic ecosystems.
Although societal needs for high-quality, objective ground-water science are increasing, current funding for USGS regional ground-water programs is about 40 percent of the funding available 20–25 years ago. Given the current challenges of budgetary constraints, however, this report provides a flexible set of interrelated research topics that enhance the ability of the USGS to focus limited fiscal resources on developing ground-water science tools and methods that provide high-quality, objective scientific information.
Sanford, Ward E.; Caine, J. S.; Wilcox, Douglas A.; McWreath, H. C.; and Nicholas, J. R., "Research Opportunities in Interdisciplinary Ground-Water Science" (2006). Environmental Science and Ecology Faculty Publications. 28.
Sanford, W.E., Caine, J.S., Wilcox, D.A., McWreath, H.C., and Nicholas, J.R., 2006, Research opportunities in interdisciplinary ground-water science in the U.S. Geological Survey: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1293, 21 p.