For a list of all USGS Water Project publications, go here.

Scientists with the USGS Water Project worked collaboratively with the Afghanistan Geological Survey (AGS) and the Afghanistan Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW) to compile hydrogeologic data on Afghanistan’s water resources, and to develop data-collection networks necessary for the understanding and management of these resources. Most hydrologic and climatic data-collection activities in Afghanistan were interrupted in the early 1980s as a consequence of war and civil strife and did not resume until 2003 or later. Because of the gap of more than 20 years in the record of hydrologic and climatic observations, investigators with the Water Project made considerable use of remotely sensed data and, where available, historical records.

Initial Focus

The initial focus of the AGS-USGS collaboration was on building the capacity of local Afghan scientists, technicians, and officials to monitor, assess, and manage the water resources of Afghanistan. This was accomplished by providing training, equipment, and supplies, strengthening existing institutions including Ministries and local universities, and developing a national, regional, or local water-resources database. Subsequently, project participants concentrated their efforts on analyzing water resources and their availability in the Helmand and Kabul basins in southern and central Afghanistan, respectively, and on collecting streamflow data in central, southeastern, and northern parts of the country. Stream gage data for much of Afghanistan can be accessed using the interactive map below.

Of particular interest to the Water Project team was the Kabul Basin, which includes the nation’s capital, Kabul, and has a population of approximately 4 million. People who live in the Kabul Basin depend primarily on groundwater resources for their potable water supply. As in some other populated areas of the country, wells in the Kabul Basin were impacted by a drought that persisted from 1998 into the early 2000s. Statistical analysis of monthly groundwater levels in the Kabul Basin indicated that since 2005, water levels have increased slightly in rural areas as a result of normal precipitation and stable groundwater withdrawals. In Kabul, however, groundwater levels have decreased due to increased water use by the city’s growing population. The rate of groundwater-level decline in the city was greater from 2008 to 2012 (1.5 m/y on average) than from 2004 to 2008 (0 to 0.7 m/y on average). Many community supply wells were installed only a few meters below the water table and are vulnerable to seasonal drying. Groundwater resources in the city of Kabul face long-term sustainability concerns, such as increasing numbers of shallow water-supply wells going dry, whereas those in the northern Kabul Basin may have fewer issues with long-term water sustainability. Continued groundwater monitoring, in addition to surface water and climate monitoring, is necessary for assessing water resource management options throughout the Kabul Basin.


Stream Gage Data

Click on any stream gage (red dot) and a pop-up window will appear with the gage name and ID, along with a link to a spreadsheet containing stream flow characteristics in graphic and tabular formats.