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Zachary Matson
Water reporter

First, an update:

In my colleague Gwen Craig's weekly newsletter yesterday, she wrote that Adirondack Park Agency commissioner Andrea Hogan had yet to resign from the board. However, after the newsletter was sent, Gwen learned from APA spokesman Keith McKeever that Hogan will indeed be stepping down. Read more here.
The new USGS Water Cycle Diagram updated in October.

When the U.S. Geological Survey in October released the first update to its water cycle diagram in 20 years, it included a new force influencing how water moves through the world: humans.

Since the diagram was last updated in 2000, it has been used to teach hundreds of thousands of students across the country how water cycles through its different phases across different environments. But it failed to include the many ways to human activity affects water processes.

After consulting with educators and hydrology experts, USGS remedied the glaring oversight and released a far more detailed diagram. 

“So much about the water cycle is influenced by our actions, and it’s important that we clearly see the role that each of us can play in sustainable water use amid a changing climate,” a top U.S. Department of Interior official said when the new schematic was published.

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Dams are among the many ways humans influence the water cycle. Explorer file photo

The visual now includes industrial, domestic agricultural and urban water use and runoff. The graphic depicts a dam holding back a large reservoir that collects snowmelt from mountains above. It shows farms and industrial centers pulling water from the ground and releasing spent water into rivers.

“We alter the water cycle,” the new diagram states plainly. “We redirect rivers. We build dams. We drain water from wetlands for development, We use water from rivers, lakes, reservoirs and groundwater aquifers… to supply our homes and communities.”

Read more about the update in this article from Eos. 

In a release announcing the new diagram, USGS highlighted “the water cycle as a complex interplay of small, interconnected cycles that people interact with and influence, rather than one big circle.”

Check out the interactive diagram online. It's a vertiable "I Spy" for hydro-nerds.

Water stories

Catch up on ongoing coverage of water quality in the Adirondack Park
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