Science Center Objects

Background: The U.S. Geological Survey compiles estimates of water use in Vermont 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 Vermont 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 Vermont as a part of the national effort.

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

- 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

Vermont have been gifted with abundant freshwater resources.

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

However, as populations have grown (10.6 % between 1990 and 2015), freshwater resources have come under significant stress in many areas (particularly during periods of drought).

Vermont population trends, 1990 - 2015

Vermont population between 1985 and 2015. (Public domain)

Vermont water withdrawal trends, 1990 - 2015

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

2015 compilation outcome 

Core numbers for Vermont are presented in the Results tab.

 

How much water is used in Vermont?

In 2015, approximately 91 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) of water was withdrawn from groundwater and surface-water sources in Vermont. Total water withdrawals between 1990 and 2015 are on steady decline (-86%).

  • Surface water withdrawals totaled  54 Mgal/d (about 59 percent of total) 
  • Groundwater withdrawals totaled 37 Mgal/d (about 41 percent of total)
  • All withdrawn water was a Fresh water, there wern't Saline water withdrawals. 

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

  • Public Supply—42.7
  • Aquaculture—12.0
  • Domestic—11.0
  • Industrial—11.0
  • Livestock—5.9
  • Mining—4.6
  • Irrigation—3.1
  • Thermoelectric—0.8
Vermont Total Water Use by category in 2015

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

Animation of 2015 Vermont water use by category

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

Vermont Public Water Supply Withdrawals in 2015 by county

VT CountyGroundwater (Mgal/d)Surface Water (Mgal/d)Total (Mgal/d)
Addison1.751.73.45
Bennington0.982.323.3
Caledonia0.870.91.77
Chittenden0.4713.4213.89
Essex0.150.10.25
Franklin0.472.533
Grand Isle0.030.470.5
Lamoille1.20.091.29
Orange0.841.322.16
Orleans1.280.351.63
Rutland1.842.534.37
Washington0.611.241.85
Windham0.361.742.1
Windsor3.040.063.1
Total13.8928.7742.66