from eating contaminated food, and (2) the accumulation of data that could be used to develop state and/or national regulations.


Water is central to all life and is unconstrained by international borders. The supply of clean water is a fundamental underpinning of peace, order, and civil society. The USGS maintains the most extensive groundwater monitoring network of any large landmass nation in the world. By enhancing the supply of clean drinking water through proper use and management of groundwater resources, the USGS could play a key role in U.S. foreign policy and have a positive and lasting impact internationally.

The United States faces water issues similar to those of other countries. Understanding of these issues globally could strengthen U.S. domestic capability to meet these water resource challenges. Many opportunities exist to expand the existing knowledge base of water issues by studying various environments; the committee highlights the following three areas for the Survey to consider pursuing in its water research:

a. Reduction of water contamination risk from natural and anthropogenic causes

As described in Chapter 3, arsenic occurs naturally in the groundwater in Bangladesh (see Box 3.6.) Local and foreign scientists expended considerable scientific effort to understand the fundamental geochemical and biochemical processes that contributed to this groundwater contamination problem. USGS scientists have the opportunity to access this new science knowledge and develop it in a way that could yield practical solutions for the reduction of arsenic and other types of contamination elsewhere.

b. Water supply management

As a new economic power, China has to manage its water supplies effectively to support both its large population and the industrial production necessary to sustain its economy. The USGS has opportunities to contribute in many ways to groundwater and surface water management in China. One area identified by USGS scientists involves the establishment of more accurate discharge measurements in China’s wide network of streams, rivers, and surface water conveyance systems. The Survey has a long history of keeping domestic stream flow records and thus has accumulated considerable expertise in this area. Furthermore, recent European investment in the development of a number of hydrologic observatories to gather real-time data for use in scientific investigations related to water and climate creates opportunities for collaboration with USGS scientists. Close to home, the USGS can build on its extensive collaborations with Canada in areas of both surface and groundwater research and joint development of instrumentation for water system monitoring.

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