Guidelines for preparation of State water-use estimates for 2015

Open-File Report 2017-1029
National Water-Use Science Project
Compiled by: Mike Bradley



The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has estimated the use of water in the United States at 5-year intervals since 1950. This report describes the water-use categories and data elements used for the national water-use compilation conducted as part of the USGS National Water-Use Science Project. The report identifies sources of water-use information, provides standard methods and techniques for estimating water use at the county level, and outlines steps for preparing documentation for the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

As part of this USGS program to document water use on a national scale, estimates of water withdrawals for the categories of public supply, self-supplied domestic, industrial, irrigation, and thermoelectric power are prepared for each county in each State, District, or territory by using the guidelines in this report. County estimates of water withdrawals for aquaculture, livestock, and mining are prepared for each State by using a county-based national model, although water-use programs in each State or Water Science Center have the option of producing independent county estimates of water withdrawals for these categories. Estimates of water withdrawals and consumptive use for thermoelectric power will be aggregated to the county level for each State by the national project; additionally, irrigation consumptive use at the county level will also be provided, although study chiefs in each State have the option of producing independent county estimates of water withdrawals and consumptive use for these categories.

Estimates of deliveries of water from public supplies for domestic use by county also will be prepared for each State. As a result, total domestic water use can be determined for each State by combining self-supplied domestic withdrawals and public-supplied domestic deliveries. Fresh groundwater and surface-water estimates will be prepared for all categories of use, and saline groundwater and surface-water estimates by county will be prepared for the categories of public supply, industrial, mining, and thermoelectric power. Power production for thermoelectric power and irrigated acres by irrigation system type will be compiled. If data are available, reclaimed-wastewater use will be compiled for the public-supply, industrial, mining, thermoelectric-power, and irrigation categories.

Optional water-use categories are commercial, hydroelectric power, and wastewater treatment. Optional data elements are public-supply deliveries to commercial, industrial, and thermoelectric-power users; consumptive use (for categories other than thermoelectric power and irrigation); irrigation conveyance loss; and number of facilities. Aggregation of water-use data by stream basin (eight-digit hydrologic unit code) and principal aquifers also is optional.

Water-use data compiled by the States will be stored in the USGS Aggregate Water-Use Data System (AWUDS). This database is a comprehensive aggregated database designed to store mandatory and optional data elements. AWUDS contains several routines that can be used for quality assurance and quality control of the data, and AWUDS produces tables of water-use data from the previous compilations.

Suggested Citation

Bradley, M.W., comp., 2017, Guidelines for preparation of State water-use estimates for 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2017–1029, 54 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Water-Use Compilation Requirements
  • Compilation Methods
  • Public Supply
  • Self-Supplied Domestic
  • Commercial
  • Industrial
  • Thermoelectric Power
  • Mining
  • Livestock
  • Aquaculture
  • Irrigation
  • Hydroelectric Power
  • Wastewater Treatment
  • Reservoir Evaporation
  • References
  • Glossary
  • Appendix 1. Coding Forms for the Compilation of Water-Use Data
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Guidelines for preparation of State water-use estimates for 2015
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2017-1029
DOI 10.3133/ofr20171029
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center
Description viii, 54 p.
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details