Streamflow and ground water conditions in southwestern Georgia and adjacent parts of Florida and Alabama continued to worsen during July. Waterways in many of the regions rivers are setting new record lows with gauges on the Flint, Suwannee, Ochlocknee, Alapaha and Apalachicola rivers recording the lowest water levels in their history due to lower than normal rainfall. Ground water levels were below normal and set new records in much of the southern Georgia, with some wells going dry.

To determine the impact of the drought on water resources and ecology of southwestern Georgia and adjacent parts of Florida and Alabama, almost two dozen researchers from three U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) water science centers in Alabama, Florida and Georgia will conduct field studies in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint and Aucilla-Suwannee-Ochlockonee river basins over a 10-day period.

"This is the first effort of its kind ever completed during the peak of the summer irrigation season," says Brian McCallum, assistant director of the USGS Georgia Water Science Center. "This effort will help us see hydrologic and ecological conditions at their most stressed condition."

USGS field crews will visit more than 200 stream sites and 400 private and public supply wells to assess streamflow decline and drops in ground water levels. Additionally, field crews will collect water-quality information that will help in the determination of the drought's impact on ecological conditions in the region. Later in the summer, they will visit the same stream sites to assess populations of fish and mussels affected by drought conditions. The work is being completed as part of the USGS WaterSmart initiative, a program to assess sustainability of water supplies in the ACF basin.

Residents interested in monitoring ground water levels across the country may visit GroundWater Watch (, a USGS Web site that displays maps, graphs and tables describing real-time, recent and past ground water conditions for the United States, with real-time data updated on an hourly basis, enabling viewers to compare historical ground water levels.