Science Center Objects

The National Water-Use Information Program of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is a cooperative program designed to compile, store, and disseminate water-use information locally and nationwide. Since 1950, the USGS has compiled data at 5-year intervals on amounts of water used in homes, businesses, and on farms in the United States, and has described how that use changed with time.

The Water-Use program was implemented in Puerto Rico in 1980 to provide data for the management of the Commonwealth's water resources. Water-resources planners and managers must have information regarding the amount of water used, as well as where and how it is used, to adequately assess many of the critical water problems facing Puerto Rico.

The USGS maintains cooperative agreements with the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA), the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (PRDNER), and the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (PREQB) to compile water-use data and maintain an adequate database for major use categories of importance to waterresources managers and planners in Puerto Rico.

Irrigation method in Santa Isabel, PR

Farm irrigated by a sprinkler system in the south coast of Puerto Rico.

Water-use data is aggregated for the 78 municipios of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Five major offstream categories are considered: public-supply water withdrawals and deliveries, domestic and industrial self-supplied water use, crop-irrigation water use, and thermoelectric-power freshwater use. One instream wateruse category also is compiled: power-generation instream water use (thermoelectric saline withdrawals and hydroelectric power).

Plumbing configuration used by domestic wells in Puerto Rico

Example of plumbing configuration used by domestic wells in Puerto Rico.

In Puerto Rico during 2010, public-supply water withdrawals by the PRASA from surface-water (587 Mgal/d) and groundwater (83 Mgal/d) sources constituted the major freshwater use category and were estimated at 670 Mgal/d. The population served by public-supply water facilities operated by the PRASA was estimated to be 96 percent of the total resident population (about 3,586,000 residents). Non-PRASA public-supply water withdrawals were estimated at 7.1 Mgal/d to serve a population of about 102,000 residents. Public-supply domestic water use in Puerto Rico was estimated at 206 Mgal/d, with about 30 percent of the total PRASA deliveries from surface-water and groundwater sources. Water withdrawals by domestic self-supplied users were estimated at 2.41 Mgal/d by a population of about 38,000 people. Groundwater withdrawals by industrial users were estimated at 4.30 Mgal/d.

Crop-irrigation withdrawals from surface-water and groundwater sources were estimated at 38.2 Mgal/d, of which 15.7 Mgal/d of surface water were in areas supplied by the public irrigation systems operated by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. Groundwater withdrawals from Puerto Rico’s major aquifers for irrigation were about 22 Mgal/d. Micro-irrigation was the predominant irrigation method and was used to supply the water requirements for 80 percent of cultivated acreage. The nine active hydroelectric power plants located throughout Puerto Rico used about 556 Mgal/d of freshwater in 2010 (Molina-Rivera, 2014).