Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2000
Water-use terminology has changed in this series of water-use Circulars prepared at 5-year intervals. The term water use as initially used for 1950 in the USGS water-use Circulars meant withdrawals of water; in the report for 1960, the term was redefined to include consumptive use of water as well as withdrawals. With the beginning of the USGS National Water Use Information Program in 1978, the term was again redefined to include return flow and offstream and instream uses. In the report for 1985, the term was redefined to include withdrawals plus deliveries from public suppliers. In the water-use Circular for 2000, water use is defined as initially used in 1950 as withdrawals of water. The following terms are referenced in the text and are part of the water-use Circular series.
animal-specialties water use—water use associated with the production of fish in captivity, except for fish hatcheries, and the raising of horses and such fur-bearing animals as rabbits and pets. Animal-specialties water use estimates were included in some previous water-use Circulars, but were combined with the livestock categories or aquaculture categories for 2000. See also aquaculture water use, fish-farm water use, livestock water use, and rural water use.
aquaculture water use—water use associated with the farming of organisms that live in water—such as finfish and shellfish—and offstream water use associated with fish hatcheries. See also fish-farm water use, fish-hatchery water use, animal-specialties water use, and livestock water use.
closed-loop cooling system—cooling systems where water is withdrawn from a source, circulated through heat exchangers, then cooled, and recycled. Subsequent water withdrawals are used to replace water lost to evaporation, blowdown, drift, and leakage and, accordingly, results in a much smaller return flow than once-through cooling. See cooling system, cooling-system type, industrial water use, and thermoelectric-power water use .
commercial water use—water for motels, hotels, restaurants, office buildings, other commercial facilities, military and nonmilitary institutions—and for 1990 and 1995, water for offstream fish hatcheries. Water may be obtained from a public-supply system or may be self-supplied. Commercial water-use estimates were included in some previous water-use Circulars but were omitted for 2000. See also fish-hatchery water use, public-supply water use, public-supply deliveries, and self-supplied water use.
consumptive use—the part of water withdrawn that is evaporated, transpired, incorporated into products or crops, consumed by humans or livestock, or otherwise removed from the immediate water environment. Consumptive-use estimates were included in some previous water-use Circulars but were omitted for 2000. Also referred to as water consumed.
conveyance loss—water that is lost in transit from a pipe, canal, conduit, or ditch by leakage or evaporation. Generally, the water is not available for further use; however, leakage from an irrigation ditch, for example, may percolate to a ground-water source and be available for further use. Conveyance-loss estimates were included in some previous water-use Circulars but were omitted for 2000. See also irrigation water use.
cooling system—an equipment system that provides water for cooling purposes, such as to condensers at power plants or at factories, and includes water intakes and outlets; cooling towers; and ponds, pumps, and pipes. See cooling-system type, industrial water use, thermoelectric-power water use.
cooling-system type—See closed-loop cooling system and once-through cooling system.
domestic water use—water used for all such indoor household purposes as drinking, food preparation, bathing, washing clothes and dishes, flushing toilets, and such outdoor purposes as watering lawns and gardens. The term used in previous water-use Circulars described the combined public supply deliveries to residential users and self-supplied domestic withdrawals. For 2000, domestic water use refers only to self-supplied domestic withdrawals. See also public-supply deliveries, public-supply water use, rural water use, and self-supplied water use.
fish-farm water use—water used for the production of finfish and shellfish under controlled feeding, sanitation, and harvesting procedures for commercial purposes. Water use by fish farms is classified in the aquaculture category. See also animal-specialties water use, aquaculture water use, and fish-hatchery water use.
fish-hatchery water use—water used for raising fish for later release and in association with the operation of fish hatcheries or fishing preserves. Fish-hatchery water use is classified in the aquaculture category. See also aquaculture water use, commercial water use, and fish-farm water use.
freshwater—water that contains less than 1,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of dissolved solids; generally, more than 500 mg/L of dissolved solids is undesirable for drinking and for many industrial uses. See also saline water.
industrial water use—water used for fabrication, processing, washing, and cooling, and includes such industries as chemical and allied products, food, mining, paper and allied products, petroleum refining, and steel. Term used in previous water-use Circulars to describe the combined public-supply deliveries to industrial users and self-supplied industrial withdrawals. For 2000, industrial water use refers only to self-supplied industrial withdrawals. See also cooling system, cooling-system type, mining water use, public-supply deliveries, public-supply water use, self-supplied water use, and thermoelectric-power water use.
instream use—water that is used, but not withdrawn, from a surface-water source for such purposes as hydroelectric-power generation, navigation, water-quality improvement, fish propagation, and recreation. Instream water-use estimates for hydroelectric power were included in previous water-use Circulars but were omitted for 2000.
irrigation district—a cooperative, self-governing public corporation set up as a subdivision of the State government, with definite geographic boundaries, organized, and having taxing power to obtain and distribute water for irrigation of lands within the district; created under the authority of a State legislature with the consent of a designated fraction of the landowners or citizens. See also irrigation water use.
irrigation water use—water that is applied by an irrigation system to assist in the growing of crops and pastures or to maintain vegetative growth in recreational lands such as parks and golf courses. Irrigation includes water that is applied for pre-irrigation, frost protection, chemical application, weed control, field preparation, crop cooling, harvesting, dust suppression, the leaching of salts from the root zone, and water lost in conveyance. See also conveyance loss , microirrigation system, sprinkler irrigation system, and surface irrigation system.
livestock water use—water for livestock watering, feedlots, dairy operations, and other on-farm needs. Types of livestock include dairy cows and heifers, beef cattle and calves, sheep and lambs, goats, hogs and pigs, horses and poultry. See also animal-specialties water use, aquaculture water use, and rural water use.
microirrigation system—An irrigation system that wets only a discrete portion of the soil surface in the vicinity of the plant by means of applicators (orifices, emitters, porous tubing, perforated pipe, and so forth) operated under low pressure. The applicators can be placed on or below the surface of the ground or can be suspended from supports. See also irrigation water use, sprinkler irrigation system, and surface irrigation system.
mining water use—water used for the extraction of naturally occurring minerals including solids, such as coal, sand, gravel, and other ores; liquids, such as crude petroleum; and gases, such as natural gas. Also includes uses associated with quarrying, milling, and other preparations customarily done at the mine site or as part of a mining activity. Does not include water associated with dewatering of the aquifer that is not put to beneficial use. Also does not include water used in processing, such as smelting, refining petroleum, or slurry pipeline operations. These processing uses are included in industrial water use. See also industrial water use and self-supplied water use.
offstream use—water withdrawn or diverted from a ground-water or surface-water source for aquaculture, commercial, domestic self-supply, industrial, irrigation, livestock, mining, public supply, thermoelectric power, and other uses. See also entries for each of the previously mentioned uses.
once-through cooling system—cooling systems in which the water is withdrawn from a source, circulated through heat exchangers, and then returned to a body of water at a higher temperature. Once-through cooling systems may be referred to as open-loop systems. See also cooling system, cooling-system type, industrial water use, and thermoelectric-power water use.
public-supply deliveries—amount of water delivered from a public supplier to users for domestic, commercial, industrial, thermoelectric-power, or public-use purposes. Delivery estimates were included in some previous water-use Circulars but were omitted for 2000. See also commercial water use, domestic water use, industrial water use, public-supply water use, public water use, and thermoelectric-power use.
public-supply water use—water withdrawn by public and private water suppliers that furnish water to at least 25 people or have a minimum of 15 connections. Public suppliers provide water for a variety of uses, such as domestic, commercial, industrial, thermoelectric power, and public water use. See also commercial water use, domestic water use, industrial water use, public-supply deliveries, public water use, and thermoelectric-power water use.
public water use—water supplied from a public supplier and used for such purposes as firefighting, street washing, flushing of water lines, and maintaining municipal parks and swimming pools. Generally, public-use water is not billed by the public supplier. See also public-supply deliveries and public-supply water use.
reclaimed wastewater—wastewater treatment plant effluent that has been diverted for beneficial use before it reaches a natural waterway or aquifer. Term used in previous water-use Circulars. See also water use.
return flow—water that reaches a ground-water or surface-water source after release from the point of use and thus becomes available for further use. Term used in previous water-use Circulars. See also water use.
rural water use—water used in suburban or farm areas for domestic and livestock needs. The water generally is self-supplied, and includes domestic use, drinking water for livestock, and other uses, such as dairy sanitation, cleaning, and waste disposal. Term used in previous water-use Circulars. See also animal-specialties water use, domestic water use, livestock water use, and self-supplied water use.
saline water—water that contains 1,000 mg/L or more of dissolved solids. See also freshwater.
self-supplied water use—water withdrawn from a ground-water or surface-water source by a user rather than being obtained from a public supply.
sprinkler irrigation system—An irrigation system in which water is applied by means of perforated pipes or nozzles operated under pressure so as to form a spray pattern. See also irrigation water use, microirrigation system, and surface irrigation system.
standard industrial classification (SIC) codes—four-digit codes established by the Office of Management and Budget, published in 1987, and used in the classification of establishments by type of activity in which they are engaged.
surface irrigation system—irrigation by means of flood, furrow, or gravity. Flood irrigation is the application of irrigation water in which the entire soil surface is covered by ponded water. Furrow is a partial surface-flooding method of irrigation normally used with clean-tilled crops in which water is applied in furrows or rows of sufficient capacity to contain the design irrigation stream. Gravity is an irrigation method in which water is not pumped, but flows in ditches or pipes and is distributed by gravity. See also irrigation water use, microirrigation system, and sprinkler irrigation system.
thermoelectric-power water use—water used in the process of generating electricity with steam-driven turbine generators. Term used in previous water-use Circulars to describe the combined public-supply deliveries to thermoelectric-power plants and self-supplied thermoelectric-power withdrawals. For 2000, thermoelectric-power water use refers only to self-supplied thermoelectric-power withdrawals. See also cooling system, cooling-system type, public-supply water use, and self-supplied water use.
wastewater-treatment return flow—term used in previous water-use Circulars to describe water returned to the hydrologic system by wastewater-treatment facilities. See also water use.
water use—(1) In a restrictive sense, the term refers to water that is withdrawn for a specific purpose, such as for public supply, domestic use, irrigation, thermoelectric-power cooling, or industrial processing. In previous water-use Circulars, water use for the domestic, commercial, industrial, and thermoelectric-power categories included both self-supplied withdrawals and deliveries from public supply. (2) More broadly, water use pertains to the interaction of humans with and influence on the hydrologic cycle, and includes elements such as water withdrawal, delivery, consumptive use, wastewater release, reclaimed wastewater, return flow, and instream use.See also offstream use and instream use.
watt-hour (Wh)—an electrical energy unit of measure equal to 1 watt of power supplied to, or taken from, an electric circuit steadily for 1 hour.
water withdrawal—water removed from the ground or diverted from a surface-water source for use. See also offstream use and self-supplied water use.
Water Use in the United States | USGS Water Resources of the United States
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