Georgia Water Science Center

USGS Fact Sheet 2007-3034

How Much Water Is in the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee, and Flint Rivers, and How Much Is Used?

This report is available online in pdf format (6 MB): USGS FS 2007-3034 (Opens the PDF file in a new window. )

By Mark N. Landers and Jaime A. Painter

U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2007-3034, 4 pages (Published April 2007)

Revision Date: May 23, 2007.

The section What is Consumptive Use? (p. 3) was revised.

Original text:

Consumptive water use for a river can be defined simply as the difference between the amount of water withdrawn and the amount of water returned to that river. This water remains in the hydrologic cycle, but is no longer available to the stream during an accounting period (that is, for that year). Consumed water may include evapotranspiration (as for irrigation and some septic tank usage), interbasin transfers, or ground-water recharge that does not return to the stream within the accounting period. The cumulative consumptive use for a specific river reach is not only the water withdrawn from that reach, but the sum of all water consumed upstream from that location.

An estimated 75 percent of the water withdrawn from the Chattahoochee River above West Point during 2000 was returned after use and treatment. This percentage varies seasonally with the type of water use.

Surface-water withdrawal data have been collected and compiled for nonagricultural use for several years in Georgia. Return-flow data, however, are generally not compiled for most years for much of Georgia. The data shown here (from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 2004) contain estimated values for some unreported withdrawals and returns, and have unknown accuracy. The lack of water-use data and the uncertainty of existing water-use data is a major hindrances to reliable water management and planning in Georgia.

Revised text:

Consumptive water use for a river can be defined simply as the difference between the amount of water withdrawn and the amount of water returned to that river. This water remains in the hydrologic cycle, but is no longer available to the stream during an accounting period. Consumed water may include evapotranspiration (as for irrigation and some septic tank usage), interbasin transfers, or ground-water recharge. The cumulative consumptive use for a specific river reach is not only the water withdrawn from that reach, but the sum of all water consumed upstream from that location.

Estimated monthly consumption for the Chattahoochee River Basin above West Point in 2000 varied from 18 to 34 percent of water withdrawals for all water uses; and from 35 to 58 percent of water withdrawals for non-thermoelectric water uses.

Surface-water withdrawal data have been collected and compiled for nonagricultural use for several years in Georgia. Return-flow data, however, are generally not compiled for most years for much of Georgia. Return flow data can be inflated by contributions from combined sewer overflows. The data shown here (from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 2004) contain estimated values for some unreported withdrawals and returns, and have unknown accuracy. The lack of reliable water-use data is a major hindrance to reliable water management and planning in Georgia.


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