Science Center Objects

Background: The U.S. Geological Survey compiles estimates of water use in Maine and the rest of the United States at the county, state, and national levels every 5 years since 1950. The most recent estimated water use compilation was completed in 2015. A summary for Maine is presented on this webpage.

The Issue: Comprehensive water use data analysis is needed to quantify the stress on existing supplies, specially during the increasing competition for water (e.g. periods of drought).

Approach:

- The USGS estimates are one of the few sources of information about national and regional trends in water withdrawals. 

- The New England WSC collects, reviews, and aggregates water withdrawal data from different sources (groundwater, surface water, fresh and saline) in Maine as a part of the national effort.

- Our WSC collects site-specific and aggregated water use information for each county in Maine. 

- The New England WSC estimates water use at the county level for eight water use categories: thermoelectric, public, domestic, livestock, mining, industrial, irrigation, and aquaculture.

Water issue

Maine have been gifted with abundant freshwater resources.

Annual precipitation averages in Maine place the state in the top half of the wettest states in the US.

However, as populations have grown (7.9 % between 1990 and 2015), freshwater resources have come under significant stress in many areas (particularly during periods of drought).

    Maine population trends, 1990 - 2015

    Maine population trends between 1985 and 2015. (Public domain)

    Maine water withdrawal trends, 1990 - 2015

    A graph showing Maine water withdrawal trends between 1990 and 2015. (Public domain)

    2015 compilation outcome 

    Core numbers for Maine are presented in the Results tab.

     

    How much water is used in Maine?

    In 2015, approximately 509 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) of water was withdrawn from groundwater and surface-water sources in Maine. Total water withdrawals between 1990 and 2015 are on steady decline (-55%).

    • Surface water withdrawals totaled  424 Mgal/d (about 83 percent of total) 
    • Groundwater withdrawals totaled 85 Mgal/d (about 17 percent of total)
    • Fresh water withdrawals were 385 Mgal/d (about 76 percent of total)
    • Saline water withdrawals were 124 Mgal/d (about 24 percent of total)

    Maine Total Water Withdrawals in 2015 by category (values in Mgal/day)

    • Industrial—225
    • Thermoelectric—86
    • Public Supply—85
    • Aquaculture—54
    • Domestic—32
    • Irrigation—19
    • Mining—6
    • Livestock—2
    Maine Total Water Use by category in 2015

    Maine Total Water Use by category in 2015. (Public domain)

    Animation of 2015 Maine water use by category

    Animation of 2015 Maine water use by category, captured from the visualization of 2015 United States water use by category, by the USGS Vizlab. (Public domain)

    Maine Public Water Supply Withdrawals in 2015 by county

    ME CountyGroundwater (Mgal/d)Surface Water (Mgal/d)Total (Mgal/d)
    Androscoggin0.87.127.92
    Aroostook3.370.744.11
    Cumberland4.321.0525.35
    Franklin0.740.621.36
    Hancock0.296.46.69
    Kennebec3.42.756.15
    Knox0.172.853.02
    Lincoln0.110.620.73
    Oxford2.750.12.85
    Penobscot3.11.694.79
    Piscataquis0.50.380.88
    Sagadahoc0.261.151.41
    Somerset0.791.031.82
    Waldo0.99 0.99
    Washington1.380.191.57
    York4.5110.8215.33
    Total27.4657.5184.97