River Water Quality

View of the New River
View of the New River

NPS / Callahan

Water is essential to all plants and animals (including humans), but depending on the location and time (day, season, or year), water can have very different physical and chemical characteristics. These properties broadly define ‘water quality’ and fundamentally determine which plant and animal species live in aquatic ecosystems such as streams, lakes, rivers, and oceans. Water quality also determines whether humans can use water for drinking, swimming, boating, and many other activities. Maintaining and improving water quality is crucial, not only to National Park visitors, but also to the many plants, animals, and people that live in and near these large rivers.

The National Park Service partners with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to monitor water quality in four large rivers (Bluestone River, Delaware River, Gauley River, and New River) in the Eastern Rivers and Mountains Network. At locations throughout these rivers, physical and chemical characteristics of river water (temperature, conductivity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity) are recorded continuously (once every 15 minutes) and are publicly available in near real-time via the USGS’ National Water Information System. Monitoring water quality through time will help protect and improve river ecosystems and the many societal uses that depend on them for future generations.

Explore Data


Source: Data Store Collection 4393. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Source: Data Store Collection 4291. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.


Caleb Tzilkowski, Aquatic Ecologist

Last updated: October 26, 2022