New England Water Science Center

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Water Resources of New England

New England Water Science Center website provides information on New England's rivers and streams, groundwater, water quality, and biology. Data collection and interpretive studies done by the Center are part of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) science strategy to address the water resource priorities of the Nation in:

  • Ecosystem status and change
  • Climate variability and change
  • National hazard risk and assessment
  • Environmental risk to human health
  • Water use and availability
  • Transportation activities in relation to water resources

New England Water Science Center Information

Nor'easter of March 2018

USGS Deploys Storm-Tide Sensors in Advance of Nor’Easter

USGS Deploys Storm-Tide Sensors, Cohasset, MA

USGS field crews have deployed storm-tide and wave sensors from Maine to Delaware to track and study a Nor'easter.

These sensors will continuously measure wave height and tide levels and provide information on the timing, duration and extent of flooding. Data is collected four times per second, providing a detailed picture of the storm.

More than 25 USGS scientists will deploy over 50 sensors along the coast of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Delaware.

The information gathered will help federal and state officials, emergency managers and coastal planners understand storm processes and ultimately build more resilient communities. Data will help fine-tune and improve the accuracy of models that forecast storm surge, inundation, erosion, dune loss and other coastal changes. This information also helps guide recovery efforts, helping identify areas hit the hardest by the storm and inform decisions to improve structure designs and increase public safety.

Read the full USGS News Release at:

Blizzard of January 2018

Physical Scientist Andrew Massey pointing to and measuring high water mark at the Yacht Club in Hull, MA

Significant flooding along the coast of Massachusetts occurred Thursday, January 4, 2018, caused by a powerful blizzard.  Peak storm surge of approximately 3.00 feet occurred at the astro high tide; and, according to the National Weather Service, is the highest since records began at the Boston tide station in 1921.  Storm surge reached approximately 3.50 feet up to a couple of hours after the high tide in and around the area.

The Aquarium Subway Station near the Seaport District had to be shut down, because water started pouring in the subway.

Snowfall totals in Massachusetts neared 18 inches, according to the National Weather Service records.  Boston snowfall totaled 13.4 inches.  Lexington snowfall totaled 17.0 inches.  Taunton snowfall totaled 17.6 inches.

Five teams of USGS hydrographers were in the field January 6-7, 2018 flagging high water marks in several heavily impacted communities, including: Revere, Winthrop, Boston, Quincy, Hull, Scituate, and Marshfield.

A news clip from NBC Boston (filmed and interviewed January 7, 2018, aired on television January 8, 2018) can be found at the following link:

Photos of the New England WSC field crew measuring high water marks are on the Blizzard of January 2018 webpage.

New England Drought Conditions

Picture of low flow at Piscataquis River near Dover-Foxcroft, Maine

State by State Drought Information

Connecticut    Massachusetts    Maine
New Hampshire    Rhode Island   Vermont

Featured Publications

October 18, 2017:

Estimating the High-Arsenic Domestic-Well Population in the Conterminous United States - 2017, Environmental Science & Technology, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b02881
Study Estimates about 2.1 Million People using Wells High in Arsenic.

In 2016 the New England WSC has published 5 new fact sheets that highlight our work and capabilities in 5 topics: flood- and drought-related natural hazards, groundwater quality, surface-water quality, climate change influences, and transportation activity impacts on hydrology. These 5 areas of work are critically related to water resource protection and assessment in New England.

Fact Sheet 2016-3008

Flood- and drought-related natural hazards activities of the U.S. Geological Survey in New England
Fact Sheet 2016-3008

Fact Sheet 2016-3009

Transportation and hydrology studies of the U.S. Geological Survey in New England
Fact Sheet 2016-3009

Fact Sheet 2016-3010

Groundwater Contaminant Science Activities of the U.S. Geological Survey in New England
Fact Sheet 2016-3010

Fact Sheet 2016-3011

Climate Change Science Activities of the U.S. Geological Survey in New England
Fact Sheet 2016-3011

Fact Sheet 2016-3012

Surface water-quality activities of the U.S. Geological Survey in New England
Fact Sheet 2016-3012

News Releases

USGS Deploys Storm-Tide Sensors in Advance of Nor’Easter
Released: 03/01/2018

USGS field crews have deployed storm-tide and wave sensors from Maine to Delaware to track and study a Nor'easter. These sensors will continuously measure wave height and tide levels and provide information on the timing, duration and extent of flooding. Data is collected four times per second, providing a detailed picture of the storm.

Read more ...

Study Estimates about 2.1 Million People using Wells High in Arsenic
Released: 10/18/2017

A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 2.1 million people in the U.S. may be getting their drinking water from private domestic wells considered to have high concentrations of arsenic, presumed to be from natural sources. Read more ...

Study Links Major Floods in North America and Europe to Multi–Decade Ocean Patterns
Released: 8/10/2017

The number of major floods in natural rivers across Europe and North America has not increased overall during the past 80 years, a recent study has concluded. Instead researchers found that the occurrence of major flooding in North America and Europe often varies with North Atlantic Ocean temperature patterns. Read more ...

New Report Shows Some Private Wells in Connecticut Test High for Naturally Occurring Arsenic, Uranium
Released: 5/3/2017

A report published by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Public Health, reveals that water from some private wells across the state has registered high levels of Arsenic and Uranium. Read more ...

Study Assesses Threats to Groundwater Availability and Sustainability in Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain
Released: 9/6/2016

Threats to groundwater availability and sustainability in the Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain are dependent to a large degree by the type of aquifers used for water supply, according to a new regional assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey. Read more ...

River Forecasts Set to Begin for Winooski River at Waterbury Vermont
Released: 8/29/2016

Waterbury Vermont will soon have a new tool to aid in flood preparedness and resiliency. On August 29 the National Weather Service (NWS) will begin issuing forecasts for the Winooski River at Waterbury Vermont. Predictions of water levels extending out three days will be updated once daily during normal and low flow conditions, and more frequently as conditions warrant during high water or flooding. These new forecasts are possible based on work by the US Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. Read more ...

Cape Cod susceptible to potential effects of sea-level rise
Released: 7/12/2016

Cape Cod is vulnerable to rising water tables and, in some areas, groundwater inundation as a result of rising sea levels, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.
Groundwater inundation occurs when the water table reaches or exceeds land surface. The challenges associated with the issue are likely to become more prevalent as seas rise. In some communities, groundwater inundation may result in saltwater intrusion of aquifers, problems with underground utilities and pipes, flooded basements and septic system failures, among other challenges. Depending on the severity, it may make areas unsuitable for residential and commercial development. Read more ...

Buoy on Popular New England Lake Helps Determine When to Stay Out of the Water
Released: 6/27/2016

A high-tech buoy that monitors water quality in real time was just installed in one of New England’s most popular lakes, where in the future it will help with determining when swimmers should and shouldn’t be in the water. Read more ...

Maine's Newest Tide Gauge for Coastal Safety
Released: 5/31/2016

More vital coastal storm-tide information needed to help guide storm response efforts following major storms is now available with the addition of Maine's newest U.S. Geological Survey installed tide gauge.
The gauge is installed at the Town of Saco's pier at Camp Ellis. Both public and private property in the area is subject to significant storm damage due to waves and wind. Read more ...

Nitrogen in Lakes Connected to Groundwater
Released: 4/28/2016

A recent scientific study shows new, important information about how groundwater cannot only contribute nutrients such as nitrogen to lakes, but can also carry it away. Nitrogen is an important nutrient but harmful when over-supplied. The fate and transport of nitrogen are critically important issues for human and aquatic ecosystem health. Read more ...

Color and phytoplankton changes in the Gulf of Maine
Released: 4/21/2016

Dr. William "Barney" Balch's team at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences has been sampling the waters of the Gulf of Maine regularly over the same transect for the last 18 years as part of a NASA-funded study. Working with scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, Dr. Thomas Huntington and Dr. George Aiken, Balch reported in a recent paper an overall reduction in productivity in the Gulf of Maine. Read more ...

Improved Water Quality Upstream Helps Long Island Sound
Released: 3/22/2016

Water quality in Connecticut streams flowing into Long Island Sound has steadily improved over the last 40 years, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.
USGS has been monitoring water quality in the state's streams for 43 years, since the implementation of the Clean Water Act in 1972. Read more ...

Man-made Pollutants Finding Their Way Into Groundwater Through Septic Systems
Released: 2/10/2015

Pharmaceuticals, hormones and personal care products associated with everyday household activities are finding their way into groundwater through septic systems in New York and New England, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Read more ...

A Decade of Water Science: USGS Helps Assess Water Resources in Afghanistan
Released: 8/19/2014

For the past decade, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have shared their expertise with the Afghanistan Geological Survey (AGS) in efforts to build an inventory of Afghanistan’s water resources. A new fact sheet details how these efforts help the country quantify and monitor its water resource.
”This partnership with the Afghanistan Geological Survey and other international agencies is extremely important for Afghanistan,” said Jack Medlin, USGS regional specialist, Asia and Pacific Region. ”There’s a broad consensus that water availability is a global issue, and these collaborative efforts created the data collection networks necessary to help quantify water conditions in the region and manage future water supplies.” Read more ...

Well-Water for 80,000 New Hampshire Residents May contain Metals Exceeding Human Health Standards
Released: 6/16/2014

Nearly three-in-ten well-water samples tested from southeast New Hampshire contained metals at concentrations that exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency drinking-water standards and guidelines, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey study.
Researchers sampled water from 232 private bedrock wells from 2012 to 2013, testing for levels of arsenic, uranium, manganese, iron and lead.
”Our study showed that a significant percentage of the population that relies on domestic bedrock wells may have drinking water with arsenic, lead, manganese, and (or) uranium concentrations greater than human-health standards established by the EPA for public-water systems,” said hydrologist Sarah Flanagan, lead author of the study. Read more ...

Featured Projects

Flood-inundation maps for the Hoosic River, North Adams and Williamstown, Massachusetts

partyA series of nine digital flood–inundation maps were developed for an 8–mile reach of the Hoosic River in North Adams and Williamstown, Massachusetts, by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The availability of the flood–inundation maps on the website combined with information regarding current (near real–time) stage from USGS streamgage Hoosic River near Williamstown, and forecasted flood stages from the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service will provide emergency management personnel and residents with information that is critical for flood response activities such as evacuations and road closures, and post–flood recovery efforts. The flood–inundation maps are nonregulatory, but provide Federal, State, and local agencies and the public with estimates of the potential extent of flooding during selected peak–flow events.
Read more ...

Groundwater Resources of Cape Cod

map The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been investigating groundwater and surface-water resources on Cape Cod for more than 50 years. A newly released USGS Fact Sheet highlights recent studies that have focused on the sources of water to public-supply wells, ponds, streams, and coastal areas; the transport and discharge of nitrogen derived from domestic and municipal disposal of wastewater; and the effects of climate change on groundwater and surface-water resources.
The fact sheet, "Science for the Stewardship of the Groundwater Resources of Cape Cod, Massachusetts" (, and an associated bibliography of USGS Cape Cod water-resources reports ( are available online.

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Page Last Modified: Friday, 02-Mar-2018 13:43:05 EST