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Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5062

Prepared in cooperation with the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission

Estimated Water Use in Arkansas, 2010

By Aaron L. Pugh and Terrance W. Holland

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (4.27 MB)Abstract

The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC) conducts an annual inventory of reported groundwater and surface-water withdrawals in Arkansas in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). This report describes withdrawals from groundwater and surface-water resources in Arkansas for 2010. The report compiles withdrawals by county for 10 categories of water use—public supply, domestic (self-supplied), commercial (self-supplied), industrial (self-supplied), mining, livestock, aquaculture, irrigation, duck (hunting) clubs, and thermoelectric power generation. Water-use trends in Arkansas from 1965 to 2010 and sources of groundwater withdrawals also are described.

During 2010, total withdrawals from groundwater and surface-water sources in Arkansas were 11,300 million gallons per day (Mgal/d). Of the total withdrawn, about 69 percent (7,790 Mgal/d) was from groundwater. Public-supply systems served about 94 percent of Arkansas’ population. Public-supply total withdrawals were 429 Mgal/d, with about 69 percent from surface-water sources. The statewide average of per capita residential use from public-supply systems was about 155 gallons per day (gal/d). The domestic (self-supplied) water use was 12.8 Mgal/d. Total commercial (self-supplied) water use was 11.7 Mgal/d. Total industrial (self-supplied) water use was 276 Mgal/d. Total mining water use was 44.3 Mgal/d. Total livestock water use was 39.0 Mgal/d. Total aquaculture water use was 268 Mgal/d. Irrigation water use totaled 8,720 Mgal/d. Total duck (hunting) club water use was 216 Mgal/d. Total thermoelectric power water use was 1,540 Mgal/d.

The three water-use categories with the largest withdrawals and their effects on total water use were examined. Total water use in Arkansas has increased about 428 percent between 1965 and 2010. Total groundwater use increased about 533 percent and total surface-water use increased about 289 percent. Since about 2000, total water use in Arkansas has plateaued, peaking in 2005. The plateauing of total water use is the result of decreasing surface-water use in the irrigation, thermoelectric power, and public-supply categories offsetting the continuing increases in groundwater use in the irrigation category. An examination of total water use and irrigation water-use changes over time demonstrates the increasing dominance of groundwater withdrawals for irrigation on Arkansas’ total water use. Total irrigation water use in Arkansas between 1965 and 2010 has increased about 652 percent. Withdrawals for thermoelectric power water use in Arkansas have continuously accounted for about half of the State’s total surface-water use for the period 1965–2010. Thermoelectric power water use in Arkansas between 1965 and 2010 increased 264 percent. The percent of Arkansas’ population served by public water suppliers has continued to increase while the percentage of the State’s total water use withdrawn by public water suppliers has remained relatively constant. Public-supply water use in Arkansas between 1965 and 2010 increased about 238 percent. Regardless of continuing increases in population, since about 2000, total public-supply water use in Arkansas has plateaued at about 425 Mgal/d.

Groundwater withdrawals comprised about 69 percent of the total amount of water used in Arkansas in 2010. Four aquifers in Arkansas account for more than 99 percent of the total groundwater withdrawals. The aquifers in deposits of Quaternary age supplied about 97 percent of all groundwater withdrawals. The Sparta-Memphis aquifer supplied about 2.5 percent of all groundwater withdrawals, the Wilcox aquifer supplied about 0.5 percent of all groundwater withdrawals, and the Paleozoic aquifer supplied about 0.3 percent of all groundwater withdrawals.

First posted June 10, 2015

For additional information, contact:
Director, Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
401 Hardin Road
Little Rock, Arkansas 72211–3528

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Suggested citation:

Pugh, A.L., and Holland, T.W., 2015, Estimated water use in Arkansas, 2010: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5062, 33 p.,

ISSN 2328-0328 (online)




Purpose and Scope

Data-Collection Methods

Estimated Water Use by Category and Withdrawals by Source

Changes in Water Use for Selected Categories, 1965–2010

Sources of Groundwater Withdrawals


Selected References


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