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US Water Use at Lowest Levels in 45 years


Every 5 years the USGS, in cooperation with State, Federal and local agencies compile water use estimates for the Nation. These estimates began in 1950 with the most recent estimate being for the period from 2005 to 2010.

Based on water use information compiled for 2005 to 2010, water use across the United States has reached its lowest levels since before 1970. According to a recent report from the USGS, in 2010 water use for the entire US was approximately 355 billion gallons per day which is a 13% reduction from water use in 2005.

“Reaching this 45-year low shows the positive trends in conservation that stem from improvements in water use technologies and management,” said Mike Conner, Deputy Secretary of the Interior. “Even as the US population continues to grow, people are learning to be more water conscious and do their part to help sustain the limited freshwater resources in the country.”

The states with the highest water use in 2010 accounting for more than 50 percent of the total use were, in order: California, Texas, Idaho, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, New York, Alabama and Ohio.

The largest uses were for thermoelectric power at 45 percent, irrigation at 33 percent, public water supply at 12 percent and self-supplied industrial at 4 percent which together account for 94 percent of the total use. Water use for thermoelectric power declined 20 percent from 2005 which can be attributed to more efficient cooling systems and reduced use to protect aquatic habitat. Withdrawals for irrigation dropped by 9 percent which is attributed to higher-efficiency irrigation systems and public water supply use declined by 5 percent despite a 4 percent increase in the nation’s population. Self-supplied industrial also dropped 12 percent. Use declined in all categories except mining which was up 30% and aquaculture which includes fish farms and hatcheries which was up 7 percent.

For more information, see the full USGS report at http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1405/.

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