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Introduction The history of the U.S. Geological Survey's Water Resources Division (WRD) is entwined with the history of U.S. westward expansion. In 1879, as the nation pushed its boundaries west, Congress, at the recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences, created the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to map the new territories. The agency dispatched teams of scientists on horseback to document the west's natural resources--including its water supplies. The present-day WRD, with its staff of nearly 5,000 and approximately $295 million annual budget, grew from those early explorations of western water resources. Over the decades, the WRD has carved a unique niche among federal agencies. Unlike other agencies that deal with water resources, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Bureau of Reclamation, the WRD has neither regulatory nor developmental responsibilities. Its sole product is unleased information, gathered from nationwide programs that can be grouped into three categories: Data collection and resource evaluation: WRD field researchers gather data on and analyze stream flow, ground water characteristics, lake water quality, and other factors related to the quantity, quality, and use of the nation's water resources. . Local problem evaluation: The WRD technical staff, in cooperation with state and local agencies, studies local water resources problems, such as runoff of agricultural chemicals into local streams. Fundamental water science rcscarch: The WRD promotes fundamcnta1 water science rcscarch by supporting its own scicn 6

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Introd action 7 tific staff and by administering an external water resources research program mandated by Congress. The combined responsibilities of gathering data, assisting states, and promoting research sometimes create conf licting demands for the WRD's resources--demands that will surely increase in the future. This report represents the carefully deliberated views of the National Research Council's Committee on USGS Water Resources Research, established in 1985 to provide guidance to the WRD. The head of the WRD (the Chief Hydrol- ogist) invited the committee to report on ways the WRD can fulfill its increasing responsibilities most efficiently. This chapter presents a historical overview of the WRD and creates a context for the recommendations made later in the report. Chapters 2 through 4 present the committee's view of how the WRD should evolve to meet future challenges: how it should interact with other agencies, states, and universities; what types of water science research it should undertake; how it should apportion its resources among its different programs; and how it should reorganize to ensure the best use of its resources. EVOLUTION OF THE WATER RESOURCES DIVISION The original mission of the WRD's predecessors in the USGS was to map water resources for farms. After the Civil War, the federal government initiated a policy of western expansion by offering veterans land they could farm. However, a severe drought in 1886 changed the program. Prompted by the drought, Congress in 1888 requested that the USGS investigate water resources for agriculture in the west. Congress sought data on stream flow, potential reservoir sites, and suitable locations for water distribution channels so that the government could build an infrastructure to shield farmers from future droughts. To meet the congressional mandate, the USGS established an Irrigation Survey--the first forerunner of the WRD. By the turn of the century, cities had grown and, with them, the need for industrial and municipal water supplies. The USGS's role in studying water resources expanded beyond its initial agrarian focus. Cities, lacking the resources to evaluate their water supplies, began turning to the USGS for expertise in identifying water resources. The combination of the increased water demand and the existence of a base of geographically dispersed expertise in the USGS resulted in the growth of coopera

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Pre paring for the Twenty-First Century FIGURE 1 The men in the cable car are measuring the flow in the Arkansas River near Canyon, Colorado, circa 1890, using proce- dures developed at Embudo, New Mexico. CREDIT: U.S. Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 56, 1901. live programs with states. The cooperation quickly developed on a fifty-fifty cost-share basis. At the time of World War I, the USGS's water programs were weighted heavily toward character- izing stream flows for irrigation in the west and for hydroelectric power generation and public water supplies in the east. After World War I, increased industrialization that the war effort had fostered and increased immigration placed additional demands on water supplies. In part because of the increased demand, the USGS's water resources experts began focusing more attention on ground water supplies. Their quest was aided by the development of deep-well pumps for the oil industry that pro- vided the capability to tap deeper ground water sources. By 1935, most states, under the auspices of the USGS, were collecting data on ground water levels.

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Introd action 9 The drought years of the 1930s further accelerated the USGS's ground water programs. The programs emphasized investigations into ground water's inorganic constituents and sanitary quality as they might affect municipal supplies. In addition, isolated occurrences of saltwater intrusion into wells near the coast led to the development of down-hole instrumentation for identifying the sources of this contaminant. - The USGS's surface water programs also flourished after World War I. Advances in construction machinery gave impetus to the creation of reservoirs and water diversion networks. The public works efforts initiated during the Great Depression created yet more need for the USGS's water experts. The Tennessee Valley Authority turned to the USGS's Water Resources Branch for data essential to dam construction. USGS scientists helped the Public Works Administration create a comprehensive stream gaging network. The Army Corps of Engineers, in cooperation with the USGS, developed techniques for estimating flood frequency for use in the hydraulic design of flood control levees. By the time the nation became involved in World War II, the USGS had developed programs to characterize and quantify water supplies, and it had helped form the scientific basis for the discipline of hydrology. More importantly, it had created a permanent technical staff who became leaders in shaping the technical programs of the 1 940s and 1 950s. During World War II, the need to solve problems for the industrial complex supporting the war effort overshadowed all the USGS's other water resources activities. The USGS handled nearly 4,000 specific requests for assistance from the War Department and other agencies charged with producing war materials. The challenges that the growing industrial complex presented to the USGS led to the start of several long-term research projects. For example, the need of Arizona's Phelps Dodge Corporation to conserve water in an arid mining environment sparked an investigation of evapotranspiration by phreatophytes. The needs of distilleries in Louisville, Kentucky, to store and recover large quantities of alcohol underground opened some of the earliest investigations of two-phase ground water flow. Declining east- coast water levels prompted research into artificial recharge of fresh ground water. The need to dispose of ammunition waste in Weldon Springs, Missouri, led to explorations of the fate and transport of ground water contaminants. After the war, these projects continued under the auspices of a new arm of the USGS: the Water Resources Division, as it was named in 1949. -

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10 Preparing for the Twenty-First Century At the end of the 1940s, the federal and state governments adopted a formal policy of promoting economic growth. The states had vested interests in expanding their industrial bases, and they competed to attract new industry to employ their returning veterans. Growth required economic development, and economic development required water. Once again, states turned to the USGS's cooperative program, now administered by the WRD, for information on water supply potential. Industry changed from producing goods for war to satisfying domestic needs. In the process, the supply of pumps, well drilling equipment, and well casing increased and the prices dropped. Ground water supply development became economical where it had once been marginal. Ground water use in the plains states and in California's Central Valley exploded. During this time, surface water consumption also increased. The availability of a construction work force along with new irrigation and power demands accelerated the construction of dams and complex diversion works. The competition for water (especially in western states) led to refinement and implemen- tation of complex state water laws and interstate compacts. There was an accompanying increased demand for water data for regula- tory and operational purposes. During the 1950s, the WRD began to emphasize fundamental research in addition to its traditional roles of gathering data and assisting states. For example, WRD researchers helped develop statistical approaches to hydrology. They refined methods of analyzing aquifer tests. They advanced understanding of the relationship between ground water and surface water. And they helped create the first electrical analog models of ground water flow. The Water Resources Research Act of 1964 lent further support to the research the WRD had undertaken. This act established a Water Resources Research Institute in every state and territory, with the aim of promoting fundamental water science research and applying the results to state and national problems. The authors of the act envisioned that the WRD would immediately assume the task of administering the institutes, but it did not do so until 1983. (For its first two decades, the program was administered by other offices within the Department of the Interior, the USGS's parent organization.) A proliferation of congressional legislation during the 1970s caused rapid expansion in WRD programs. The 1970s drought

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12 Preparing for the Twenty-First Century attuned Congress to the uncertainties of water supplies. One result was the Regional Aquifer Systems Analysis (RASA) Program, establisher! to evaluate ground water supplies. Energy supply disruptions led to legislation that expanded the capacity to obtain stream flow data in areas rich in fossil fuels. Nuclear waste disposal problems prompted legislation that authorized the WRD to undertake research needed for the siting of nuclear waste repositories. All of these national efforts came about in part because of congressional recognition that an aggregation of similar local problems indicated a national need. During the last decade, the WRD has begun to play a larger role in monitoring water quality, in part because of increased pub- lic awareness of environmental problems. The USGS Toxic Sub- stances Hydrology Program, established in 1982, provides exper- tise on the fate and transport of hazardous waste. The National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program, which began in 1990, will assess the extent and sources of pollution in the nation's water supplies. THE WATER RESOURCES DIVISION TODAY Today's WRD encompasses a dispersed network of experts who provide a wide variety of information about water science: from data on local ground water supplies to communications about floods and droughts. The WRD scientists--stationed at more than 200 offices nationwide--have accumulated knowledge of local hydrologic conditions that enables them to provide early reports about emerging water problems. Figure 3 shows the locations of principal WRD offices; headquarters are at the USGS National Center in Reston, Virginia. Four regional hydrologists manage the WRD's network of scientists. The regional hydrologists are headquartered in Reston (Northeastern Region), Atlanta, Georgia (Southeastern Region), Lakewood, Colorado (Central Region), and Menlo Park, California (Western Region). Reporting to the regional hydrologists are 43 district chiefs. District offices typically are located in state capitals, and their jurisdictional boundaries correspond to state boundaries. (There are three multistate districts: the Mid-Atlantic District, the New England District, and the Pacif ic Northwest District.) Most districts have one or more subdistrict and field offices that report to the district chief. District chiefs manage cooperative studies

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14 Preparing for the Twenty-First Century with states, elements of the federally funded programs within their purview (e.g., NAWQA and RASA), and the collection of local hydrologic data. The districts also perform a variety of studies for other federal agencies, such as the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, and Defense. While district-office scientists focus primarily on problems arising within the geographic area covered by the district, the WRD's National Research Program scientists address more general concerns. These investigators, located at three of the regional offices (in Reston, Lakewood, and Menlo Park), conduct funda- mental research into physical, chemical, and biological processes that affect the movement of water and its constituents through the hydrologic system. (A few project offices in other sections of the country also aid in fundamental research.) Thus, the Geological Survey's role in water resources has evolved: from a few men on horseback who mapped water sup- plies for agriculture to a large network of scientists who gather data, conduct research, and carry out sophisticated scientific analyses.

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