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Scientific Investigations Report 2014–5088

Prepared in cooperation with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Water Withdrawals, Use, and Trends in Florida, 2010

By Richard L. Marella

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (2.12 MB)Abstract

In 2010, the total amount of water withdrawn in Florida was estimated to be 14,988 million gallons per day (Mgal/d). Saline water accounted for 8,589 Mgal/d (57 percent) and freshwater accounted for 6,399 Mgal/d (43 percent). Groundwater accounted for 4,166 Mgal/d (65 percent) of freshwater withdrawals, and surface water accounted for the remaining 2,233 Mgal/d (35 percent). Surface water accounted for nearly all (99.9 percent) saline-water withdrawals. An additional 659 Mgal/d of reclaimed wastewater was used in Florida during 2010. Freshwater withdrawals were greatest in Palm Beach County (707 Mgal/d), and saline-water withdrawals were greatest in Hillsborough County (1,715 Mgal/d).

Fresh groundwater provided drinking water (public supplied and self-supplied) for 17.33 million people (92 percent of Florida’s population), and fresh surface water provided drinking water for 1.47 million people (8 percent). The statewide public-supply gross per capita use for 2010 was 134 gallons per day, whereas the statewide public-supply domestic per capita use was 85 gallons per day. The majority of groundwater withdrawals (almost 62 percent) in 2010 were obtained from the Floridan aquifer system, which is present throughout most of the State. The majority of fresh surface-water withdrawals (56 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 35 percent. Public supply accounted for 48 percent of groundwater withdrawals, followed by agricultural self-supplied (34 percent), commercial-industrial-mining self-supplied (7 percent), recreational-landscape irrigation and domestic self-supplied (5 percent each), and power generation (less than 1 percent). Agricultural self-supplied accounted for 51 percent of fresh surface-water withdrawals, followed by power generation (25 percent), public supply (11 percent), recreational-landscape irrigation (9 percent), and commercial-industrial-mining self-supplied (4 percent). Power generation accounted for nearly all (99.8 percent) saline-water withdrawals.

Of the 18.80 million people who resided in Florida during 2010, 41 percent (7.68 million people) resided in the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), 25 percent each resided in the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) (4.73 and 4.70 million people, respectively), 7 percent (1.36 million people) resided in the Northwest Florida Water Management District (NWFWMD), and 2 percent (0.33 million people) resided in the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD). The largest percentage of freshwater withdrawals was from the SFWMD (47 percent), followed by the SJRWMD (21 percent), SWFWMD (18 percent), NWFWMD (9 percent), and SRWMD (5 percent).

Between 1950 and 2010, the population of Florida increased by 16.03 million (580 percent), and the total water withdrawals (fresh and saline) increased by 12,334 Mgal/d (465 percent). More recently, total freshwater withdrawals decreased by more than 1,792 Mgal/d (22 percent) between 2000 and 2010, while the population increased by 2.82 million (18 percent), and total freshwater withdrawals decreased by more than 474 Mgal/d (7 percent) between 2005 and 2010, while the population increased by 0.88 million (8 percent). The recent trend of decreases in freshwater withdrawals is a result of increased rainfall during this period, the development and use of alternative water sources, water conservation efforts, more conservative regulations and mandates, changes in economic conditions, and losses of irrigated lands. Fresh-water withdrawals for public supply, agricultural self-supplied use, and commercial-industrial-mining self-supplied use all decreased between 2000 and 2010 and between 2005 and 2010, whereas freshwater withdrawals for domestic self-supplied use, recreational-landscape irrigation use, and power generation use either remained the same or changed slightly during the decade.

The use of highly mineralized groundwater (referred to as nonpotable water) as a source of drinking water has increased in Florida. Nonpotable water use for public supply has increased from nearly 2 Mgal/d in 1970 to about 165 Mgal/d in 2010. Nonpotable water is either blended or treated to meet drinking-water standards and is mostly used along the east and west coasts of central and southern Florida. The use of reclaimed wastewater increased from about 206 Mgal/d in 1986 to nearly 659 Mgal/d in 2010. More than three-quarters (79 percent) of reclaimed wastewater in 2010 was used to supplement potable-quality water withdrawals for urban irrigation, agricultural irrigation, and industrial use.

First posted June 13, 2014

For additional information, contact:
Director, Florida Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
4446 Pet Lane, Suite 108
Lutz, FL 33559

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Suggested citation:

Marella, R.L., 2014, Water withdrawals, use, and trends in Florida, 2010: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014–5088, 59 p.,

ISSN 2328–0328 (online)




Water Withdrawals and Use

Water Withdrawal and Use Trends, 1950–2010

Selected References


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