Oregon Water Science Center
U.S Geological Survey
ABOUT THE OREGON WSC
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USGS Water Science Centers are located in each state and territory.
Water Resources of Oregon
Welcome to the home page for the U.S. Geological Survey Oregon Water Science Center. This is your gateway to a wealth of information on surface water, ground water, and water quality in Oregon and the Nation. The Oregon Water Science Center provides water data and interpretation of data to Federal, State, and local agencies; Tribes; and the public. Our data and study results are widely used to manage Oregon's water resources for the benefit of both people and our environment. We hope that you will find this Website informative and useful.
Streamflow Conditions in Oregon
USGS Oregon WSC Highlights
USGS Study of Upper Klamath Lake Links Circulation Patterns and Water Quality
Summer algae blooms in Upper Klamath Lake create water-quality conditions that are stressful for fish. (Photograph by Mary Lindenberg, U.S. Geological Survey, September 26, 2006.)
Upper Klamath Lake is a large, shallow lake in southern
The extended periods of oxygen depletion have been more severe in the northern part of Upper Klamath Lake than in areas of similar depth throughout the rest of the lake, suggesting that circulation patterns affect the distribution and severity of unfavorable water-quality conditions. A recent
The study found that water exiting the northern end of the trench had two components: a surface component that flows toward the southern part of the lake and a deep component that flows into the northern part of the lake, which is prime habitat for endangered suckers. Under certain conditions the deeper component exits the trench with a very low dissolved oxygen content, which is stressful to fish. This is because light does not penetrate to the deeper water, so there is no oxygen-producing photosynthesis, and oxygen-consuming processes such as algal respiration and decay, and sediment oxygen demand predominate. Why the oxygen depletion persists when the deeper water exits the trench and travels through shallow areas where photosynthesis should occur, though, is unknown. Explanations might be that algae entrained in the deeper water are either not as healthy as the more buoyant colonies in the surface water or that they have settled out of the water altogether. Answers to this question await further study.
Read the report from this study at http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2008/5076/.
Read about other
Study: Emerging Contaminants are Widespread in Stream Sediments of the Lower Columbia Basin
Columbia Slough, an urban waterway that receives surface runoff and combined sewer overflows, is a hotspot for PPCPs, AWIs, and EDCs. (Photo courtesy of Lyn Topinka, Columbia River Images, Vancouver, WA)
A recent USGS reconnaissance study in the lower Columbia River Basin found a widespread occurrence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and anthropogenic (human-produced) waste indicators (AWIs) in streambed sediments 49 compounds in all. Some of these chemicals are endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) that can affect reproduction in wildlife and in humans. Sediment samples were collected from the Columbia River, the Willamette River, the Tualatin River, and several small urban creeks that enter the Columbia River or the River. Concentrations and frequency of detection were higher in tributaries and small urban creeks than in the Columbia River itself, pointing to a higher risk of impacts on juvenile salmonids and other aquatic life in smaller streams. At least one EDC was detected at 22 of 23 sites sampled; several EDCs were widespread among the sites.
The USGS study is the first to document the occurrence of PPCPs and AWIs in the sediments of the Columbia River Basin. The role of sediments in exposure of aquatic organisms to these chemicals is not well understood. Some of these compounds are known to have detrimental impacts on aquatic life, while the effects of others are unknown and require further study. Their presence in the sediments raises the possibility that the compounds could be ingested by organisms that feed in and on the sediment and concentrate up the food chain. There is clearly a need for a monitoring strategy for these classes of emerging contaminants, especially because their use and subsequent discharge into the environment is likely to increase in the future.
Read more about this study:
Drugs Climbing Food Chain? (Portland Tribune, December 14, 2007)
A Medicine Cabinet Runs Through It (Oregonian article, March 10, 2008)
Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products Detected in Streambed Sediments of the Lower Columbia River and Selected Tributaries (Proceedings paper from NOAA Coastal Zone ’07 meetings; PDF, 0.2 MB)
Pharmaceuticals, Personal Care Products, and Anthropogenic Waste Indicators Detected in Streambed Sediments of the Lower Columbia River and Selected Tributaries (Proceedings paper from 6th International Conference on Pharmaceuticals and Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Water, National Ground Water Association; PDF, 0.6 MB)
Poster (PDF, 2.3 MB)
Effects of Urbanization on Stream Ecosystems in the Willamette River Basin and Surrounding Area, Oregon and Washington, by Ian R. Waite, Steven Sobieszczyk, Kurt D. Carpenter, Andrew J. Arnsberg, Henry M. Johnson, Curt A. Hughes, Michael J. Sarantou, and Frank A. Rinella
Estimating Flow-Duration and Low-Flow Frequency Statistics for Unregulated Streams in Oregon, by John Risley, Adam Stonewall, and Tana Haluska
Klamath River Water Quality and Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler Data from Link River Dam to Keno Dam, 2007, by Annett B. Sullivan, Michael L. Deas, Jessica Asbill, Julie D. Kirshtein, Kenna Butler, Marc A. Stewart, Roy W. Wellman, and Jennifer Vaughn
Of Current Interest
Water for America Initiative
The 21st Century brings a new set of water resource challenges. Water shortage and use conflict have become more commonplace in many areas of the United States even in normal water years for irrigation of crops, for growing cities and communities, for energy production, and for the environment and species protected under the law. Much has changed since the last overall assessment of water resources for the Nation was published by the Water Resources Council in 1978. It is time for a comprehensive examination of water availability in the United States using what we have learned during the past thirty years and with up-to-date capabilities.
In response to a request from Congress, the USGS released a report in 2002 entitled, Concepts for National Assessment of Water Availability and Use, (Circular 1223). The circular outlines a broad framework by which a national assessment could take place and advocates using 21 Water Resources Regions for the study units. In 2005, USGS embarked on a pilot study of water availability in the Great Lakes Basin. The pilot focuses on understanding the dynamics of the water resources in the basin in terms of the flows and yields of both ground and surface water and demonstrates the importance of water-use data to quantifying water availability. These were the initial steps to building a comprehensive water availability initiative for America.
Updated USGS National Seismic Hazard Maps Show Increased Risk of Earthquake Damage in the Pacific Northwest
The U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program has updated its National Seismic Hazard Maps to include new seismic, geologic, and geodetic data on earthquake recurrence rates and ground motion (shaking). The information on these maps is used in the creation of building codes, to set insurance rates, to estimate the stability and landslide potential of hillsides, and for emergency management planning.
The changes to the USGS National Seismic Hazard Maps indicate that earthquakes are still a threat for 46 states in the U.S., but that the severity of ground shaking in most of the country could be less than previously assumed. However, the news for the Pacific Northwest is not as good:
To view the maps, read the documentation, or view a Fact Sheet summary, go to the 2008 United States National Seismic Hazard Maps Web page.