Science Center Objects

Background: The U.S. Geological Survey has compiled the nation's water-use data 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, particullary during periods  of drought.

Approach:

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

- The New England Water Science Center (WSC) collects, reviews, and aggregates water withdrawal data in Vermont from different sources (groundwater and surface water in both fresh and saline settings) 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 complies and estimates water use at the county level for eight water use categories: thermoelectric, public supply, domestic, livestock, mining, industrial, irrigation, and aquaculture.

Water Issues

Vermont is fortunate to have 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

A graph showing 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)

Summary of 2015 Compilation 

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In 2015, approximately 91 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) of water was withdrawn from groundwater and surface-water sources in Vermont.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 (59 percent of total) 
  • Groundwater withdrawals totaled 37 Mgal/d (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  • All withdrawn water was a Fresh water, there wern't Saline water withdrawals.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