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Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5125

Prepared in cooperation with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Water Withdrawals, Use, and Trends in Florida, 2005

By Richard L. Marella

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In 2005, the total amount of water withdrawals in Florida was estimated at 18,359 million gallons per day (Mgal/d). Saline water accounted for 11,486 Mgal/d (63 percent), and freshwater accounted for 6,873 Mgal/d (37 percent). Groundwater accounted for 4,247 Mgal/d (62 percent) of freshwater withdrawals, and surface water accounted for the remaining 2,626 Mgal/d (38 percent). Surface water accounted for nearly all (99.9 percent) saline-water withdrawals. An additional 660 Mgal/d of reclaimed wastewater was used in Florida during 2005. The largest amount of freshwater was withdrawn from Palm Beach County, and the largest amount of saline water was withdrawn from Pasco County.

Fresh groundwater provided drinking water (public supplied and self-supplied) for 16.19 million people (90 percent of Florida’s population), and fresh surface water provided drinking water for 1.73 million people (10 percent). The majority of groundwater withdrawals (nearly 60 percent) in 2005 was obtained from the Floridan aquifer system which is present throughout the entire State. The majority of fresh surface-water withdrawals (59 percent) came from the southern Florida hydrologic unit subregion and is associated with Lake Okeechobee and the canals in the Everglades Agricultural Area of Glades, Hendry, and Palm Beach Counties, as well as the Caloosahatchee River and its tributaries in the agricultural areas of Collier, Glades, Hendry, and Lee Counties.

Overall, agricultural irrigation accounted for 40 percent of the total freshwater withdrawals (ground and surface), followed by public supply with 37 percent. Public supply accounted for 52 percent of groundwater withdrawals, followed by agricultural self-supplied (31 percent), commercial-industrial-mining self-supplied (8.5 percent), recreational irrigation and domestic self-supplied (4 percent each), and power generation (0.5 percent). Agricultural self-supplied accounted for 56 percent of fresh surface-water withdrawals, followed by power generation (20.5 percent), public supply (13 percent), recreational irrigation (6 percent), and commercial-industrial self-supplied (4.5 percent). Power generation accounted for nearly all (99.9 percent) saline-water withdrawals.

Of the 17.92 million people who resided in Florida during 2005, 41 percent (7.36 million people) resided in the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), followed by the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) and the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) with 25 percent each (4.46 and 4.44 million people, respectively), the Northwest Florida Water Management District (NWFWMD) with 7.5 percent (1.34 million people), and the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) with 1.5 percent (0.32 million people). The largest amount of freshwater withdrawals was from the SFWMD, which was one-half (50 percent) of the State’s total freshwater withdrawals, followed by the SJRWMD (19 percent), SWFWMD (16 percent), NWFWMD (10 percent), and SRWMD (5 percent).

Between 1950 and 2005, the population of Florida increased by 15.15 million (550 percent), and the total water withdrawals (fresh and saline) increased 15,700 Mgal/d (600 percent). More recently, total withdrawals decreased 1,790 Mgal/d (9 percent) between 2000 and 2005, but the total population increased by 1.94 million (12 percent). Between 1990 and 2005, saline-water withdrawals increased 1,120 Mgal/d (11 percent), whereas between 2000 and 2005, saline-water withdrawals decreased 470 Mgal/d (4 percent). Between 1990 and 2005, freshwater withdrawals decreased 710 Mgal/d (9 percent), whereas between 2000 and 2005, freshwater withdrawals decreased 1,320 Mgal/d (16 percent).

The use of highly mineralized groundwater as a source of supply, primarily for public supply, also has increased in Florida. This water, referred as nonpotable water, increased from just less than 2 Mgal/d in 1970, to 142 Mgal/d in 2005. Nonpotable water is treated to meet drinking-water standards and is mostly used along the east and west coasts of central and south Florida. The use of reclaimed wastewater increased from 206 Mgal/d in 1986 to nearly 660 Mgal/d in 2005. About one-half of the reclaimed wastewater flow in 2005 was used to reduce potable-quality water withdrawals for urban irrigation, agricultural irrigation, and industrial use, but one-third of the reclaimed wastewater was returned to available water supplies as aquifer recharge.

Revised February 2, 2010

Posted January 2010

For additional information contact:
Richard L. Marella
U.S. Geological Survey
2639 North Monroe Street - Suite A-200
Tallahassee, FL 32303

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Marella, R.L., 2009, Water withdrawals, use, and trends in Florida, 2005: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009-5125, 49 p.




Purpose and Scope

Previous Investigations

Data Sources and Limitations

Water Withdrawals and Use

Water Source and Use Category

Public Supply

Domestic Self-Supplied

Commercial-Industrial Self-Supplied

Agricultural Self-Supplied (Irrigation and Nonirrigation)

Recreational Irrigation

Power Generation

Water Management Districts

Water Withdrawal Trends, 1950-2005

Selected References


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