Water Use in Alabama, 2005

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Water is one of the most important of Alabama's natural resources. Water is not only a vital component of human existence, it is critical to the overall quality of life. In order to protect and preserve this resource for future generations, we must have a baseline of information to make decisions. Decision and policy makers must know the answers to three fundamental questions: where is the water used, how it is used, and how much is used. These Web pages detail the overall withdrawals of groundwater and surface waters that occurred in Alabama in 2005.

Water use in Alabama was about 9,958 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) during 2005. Estimates of withdrawals by source indicate that total surface-water withdrawals were about 9,467 Mgal/d (95 percent of the total withdrawals) and the remaining 491 Mgal/d (5 percent) were from ground water.

Water Use in Alabama, 2005

Water is one of the most important of Alabama's natural resources. Water is not only a vital component of human existence, it is critical to the overall quality of life. In order to protect and preserve this resource for future generations, we must have a baseline of information to make decisions. Decision and policy makers must know the answers to three fundamental questions: where is the water used, how it is used, and how much is used. These Web pages detail the overall withdrawals of groundwater and surface waters that occurred in Alabama in 2005.

Water use in Alabama was about 9,958 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) during 2005. Estimates of withdrawals by source indicate that total surface-water withdrawals were about 9,467 Mgal/d (95 percent of the total withdrawals) and the remaining 491 Mgal/d (5 percent) were from ground water.

Water Use, by Category, in Alabama in 2005

More surface water than ground water was withdrawn for all categories except aquaculture, mining, and self-supplied residential. During 2005, estimated withdrawals by category and in descending order were: thermoelectric power, 8,274 Mgal/d; public supply, 802 Mgal/d; self-supplied industrial, 550 Mgal/d; irrigation, 161 Mgal/d; aquaculture, 75 Mgal/d; self-supplied residential, 39 Mgal/d; livestock, 28 Mgal/d; and mining, 28 Mgal/d. Figures may not sum to totals because of independent rounding.

During 2005, about 83 percent of the water used in Alabama was for thermoelectric power to generate about 114,144 net gigawatt-hours of energy. Almost all of the thermoelectric-power water use (about 8,274 Mgal/d) was from surface water; nearly all of the water (98 percent) was used for once-through cooling, and most of that water was returned to a surface-water source.

Public-supply and self-supplied residential withdrawals were about 8 percent of total water withdrawals and about 50 percent of total water withdrawals for all categories excluding thermoelectric power. The combined public supply and self-supplied residential ground-water withdrawals were about 64 percent of total ground-water withdrawals for Alabama. Public-supply deliveries to residential customers were 41 percent of total public-supply withdrawals, or about 326 Mgal/d; combined industrial and commercial deliveries were 44 percent, or about 355 Mgal/d; and public use and losses accounted for the remaining 15 percent, or about 120 Mgal/d.

Self-supplied industrial (550 Mgal/d) and mining (28 Mgal/d) withdrawals were about 6 percent of total water withdrawals and about 33 percent of total water withdrawals for all categories excluding thermoelectric power. Paper and allied products accounted for the largest self-supplied industrial surface-water withdrawals (301 Mgal/d), and chemical and allied products (12 Mgal/d) accounted for the largest ground-water withdrawals.

Trends in freshwater withdrawals, 1960-2005

Water withdrawals have more than doubled in Alabama from 1960 to 2005 from about 4,220 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) to 9,958 Mgal/d (fig. 1). The entire increase in withdrawals actually occurred from 1960 to 1980 (4,220 Mgal/d to more than 10,350 Mgal/d), while withdrawals in subsequent years have declined somewhat, then increased slightly, but remained nearly constant from 2000 to 2005 (8,593 Mgal/d in 1985; 8,074 Mgal/d in 1990; 8,286 Mgal/d in 1995; 9,990 Mgal/d in 2000; and 9,958 Mgal/d in 2005). Population increased about 19 percent from 1960 to 1980 and increased another 17 percent from 1980 to 2005. As a result of the leveling off of withdrawals as population has increased, gross per capita use has declined. The data indicate that gross per capita water use increased from about 1,292 gallons per day (gal/d) for 1960 to a high of about 2,661 gal/d for 1980, and then decreased to about 2,185 gal/d for 2005.

 

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