U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) | KUNC

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Earlier this month, the Trump administration released its budget proposal for next year. It included significant cuts to the U.S. Geological Survey, but that agency’s director told the Mountain West News Bureau that’s not going to happen.

Nick Cote for KUNC

A warming climate is already causing river flows in the Southwest’s largest watershed to decline, according to a new study from federal scientists. And it finds that as warming continues it’s likely to get worse. 

Luke Runyon / KUNC

Every time thick, dark rain clouds move over the deserts that surround Las Vegas, there's an anticipatory buzz. Flora and fauna alike begin preparing for the rare event, lying in wait for the first few drops.

Todd Esque is usually waiting for them too from his office in Henderson, Nevada. He knows how much desert life depends on their arrival. So when they do come, he's smiling.

Nick Cote for KUNC / LightHawk

A new federal program hopes to fill in knowledge gaps on how water moves through the headwaters of arguably the West’s most important drinking and irrigation water source. 

The U.S. Geological Survey announced the next location for its Next Generation Water Observing System (NGWOS) will be in the headwaters of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. It’s the second watershed in the country to be part of the program, after a successful pilot on the Delaware River started last year.

Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

In the summer of 2002, water pumps in Colorado’s San Luis Valley stopped working.

The center pivot sprinklers that coax shoots from the dry soil and turn the valley into one of the state’s most productive agricultural regions strained so hard to pull water from an underground aquifer that they created sunken pits around them.

“This one right over here,” says potato farmer Doug Messick as he walks toward a sprinkler, near the town of Center. He's the farm manager for the valley's Spud Grower Farms. “I came up to it one day and I could’ve driven my pickup in that hole.”

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Standing on a platform above the eastern bank of the Missouri River at the Kansas City, Missouri, Water Services’ intake plant is like being on the deck of a large ship.

Electric turbines create a vibration along the blue railing, where David Greene, laboratory manager for Kansas City Water Services, looks out across the river. Water the color of chocolate milk is sucked up and forced through screens below, picking up all the debris the river carries downstream.  

U.S. Geological Survey

Colorado is one of several states at risk for earthquakes caused by human activity, according to a new map and analysis released by federal scientists.

The U.S. Geological Survey Seismic Hazard map released Monday is the first to include earthquake risk from human actions. The map projects risk of damage-causing earthquakes for the year 2016. 

Paul Cryan / U.S. Geological Survey

How do bats die? Over time, the answer to that question has changed.

They used to die by accident. Or by getting eaten. Perhaps they got caught in a natural disaster like a fire or flood. Many were intentionally killed by humans, who feared them for a variety of reasons. Nowadays, the ways bats die has changed. 

Freshwaters Illustrated and USGS

The Colorado River rushes through the Grand Canyon in a powerful pulse. Trips down the remote river are legendary for knock-down rapids and gorgeous grottos. Being far from civilization, though, apparently doesn’t offer much help when it comes to keeping out pollution.

A study released in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry found high levels of two serious contaminants in the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

Opponents of hydraulic fracturing often comment on its high water use. Yet a comprehensive total of just how much water used during the process has been hard to come by.  

A new U.S. Geological Survey study tallied up the amount of water used in fracking -- the process where water is injected underground, along with a mix of sand and chemicals, to fracture rock and release hydrocarbons. The analysis found that certain types of wells, in specific production basins, used a lot more water than others.