50 years of water use information, 1950-2000

Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2000

Total Water Use

This section has been revised since its initial release.

Figure 1--bar graph of water use by category for 2000

Total water use in the United States for 2000 was determined from estimates of water withdrawals for the eight categories of public supply, domestic, irrigation, livestock, aquaculture, industrial, mining, and thermoelectric power (fig. 1). Total freshwater and saline-water withdrawals for 2000 were estimated to be 408,000 Mgal/d, or 457,000 thousand acre-feet per year Go to Table 1 (table 1). Freshwater withdrawals were 85 percent of the total, and the remaining 15 percent was saline water. Estimates of withdrawals by source indicate that for 2000, total surface-water withdrawals were 323,000 Mgal/d, or 79 percent of the total withdrawals for all categories of use. About 81 percent of surface water withdrawn was freshwater. Total ground-water withdrawals were 84,500 Mgal/d, of which 99 percent was freshwater. Nearly all (98 percent) saline-water withdrawals were from surface water.

Total withdrawals by category and State are listed in table 2. Go to Table 2 For 2000, the largest water withdrawals were for thermoelectric power and irrigation. Most water (195,000 Mgal/d) was withdrawn for thermoelectric power, of which 30 percent (59,500 Mgal/d) was saline. Illinois used the largest amount of freshwater for thermoelectric power (8 percent of the freshwater withdrawals for thermoelectric power). The largest saline withdrawals for thermoelectric power (41 percent) were in California and Florida. The largest freshwater withdrawals were for irrigation (40 percent of the total freshwater, or 137,000 Mgal/d). California used the largest amount of irrigation water and accounted for nearly one-quarter of the total irrigation withdrawals.

For 2000, more surface water than ground water was used in all categories except domestic, livestock, and mining (considering saline water only) (table 3). Go to Table 3 About 52 percent of the fresh surface-water withdrawals were for thermoelectric power and 30 percent were for irrigation. The largest fresh and saline surface-water withdrawals were in California. California accounted for the largest fresh surface-water withdrawals for public-supply, self-supplied domestic, irrigation, and livestock uses and for the largest saline surface-water withdrawals for thermoelectric-power use.

For 2000, most of the fresh ground-water withdrawals, 68 percent, were for irrigation (table 4). Go to Table 4 About 52 percent of the fresh ground-water use nationwide was in California, Texas, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Florida. About three-fourths of ground-water withdrawals in California and Texas were for irrigation; in Nebraska and Arkansas, 94 percent of the ground-water withdrawals were for irrigation. Ground-water withdrawals for public supply and irrigation in Florida were nearly identical. Nationwide, ground-water withdrawals for irrigation were about 3.5 times larger than the withdrawals for public supply. Only 1 percent of ground-water withdrawals were saline. Nearly all of the saline ground-water withdrawals were for mining, of which 40 percent were in Texas.

Figure 1 shows that the largest category of water withdrawals Figure 2 reduced size image: click for larger version for 2000 was thermoelectric power (48 percent of total withdrawals). Irrigation accounted for 34 percent of the total withdrawals; public supply, 11 percent of the total; self-supplied industrial, 5 percent of the total; and self-supplied domestic, livestock, aquaculture, and mining combined accounted for around 2 percent of the total withdrawals.

The geographic distribution of total, total surface-water, and total ground-water withdrawals is shown in figure 2. California, Figure 3 reduced size image: click for larger version Texas, and Florida accounted for 25 percent of total withdrawals. California and Texas accounted for 17 percent of total surface-water withdrawals, and California accounted for 18 percent of total ground-water withdrawals. The geographic distribution of freshwater and saline-water withdrawals by State is shown in figure 3. California and Texas accounted for 18 percent of the total freshwater withdrawals, and California and Florida accounted for 40 percent of the total saline-water withdrawals.

A comparison of the intensity of freshwater withdrawals by Figure 4 reduced size image: click for larger version State, in gallons per day per square mile, shows that some smaller- and medium-sized States in the eastern United States have a greater intensity of freshwater withdrawals per square mile compared to some larger-sized western States (fig. 4). California and Idaho also are high in water-use intensity; however, Texas, the State with the second largest total withdrawals, is relatively low in water-use intensity.

Water Use in the United States | USGS Water Resources of the United States

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