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USGS Washington Water Science Center

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Raegan Huffman,
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Tacoma, WA 98402

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Water-Quality Records

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Long-term water-quality data characterize the physical, chemical, and biological changes in our water resources in response to natural processes including climate variations, storms, floods, droughts, volcanic eruptions, and a variety of human activities that affect water-quality conditions. The data are useful in designing programs to protect watersheds, sensitive aquatic habitats, biota, and drinking water sources from urban and agricultural runoff, sewage, and industrial and mining wastes. The data also are useful in designing programs to maintain waterways for such uses as navigation, aesthetics, and recreation and to meet national and international treaty obligations. Water-resource planning and water-quality assessment require a nationwide database of relatively standardized information.

To effectively assess the quality of the Nation's surface-water and ground-water resources, the USGS collects water-quality data from rivers, lakes, estuaries, and ground-water aquifers. Water-quality data are published in annual data reports, and an increasing amount of real-time and historical water-quality data is available on the World Wide Web. The data, collected using standardized instruments and procedures, contribute to a nationally consistent data set for assessment of the quality of the Nationís water and for Federal management of interstate and international waters. The water-quality data collected in Washington are an integral part of the nationwide water-quality data program.

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