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Water use in the U.S., 2015

How do we use water in the U.S.?

We all depend on water every day, ranging from the water from our faucets, to the food we eat, to much of the electricity we use. The U.S. and its territories used nearly 322 billion gallons of water per day in 2015. This would cover the continental U.S. in about two inches of water over the course of a year. The national breakdown of water withdrawals looks like this:

USGS Water Use Data for the Nation

National water-use data are reported by source (surface water or groundwater, fresh and saline, and total), and category for the United States as a whole. The water-use data presented here are the current best estimates, and may have been revised from previous publications.

Blacks Fork synoptic sampling sites

Streamflow and water-quality samples collected during 2018 and 2019

U.S. Water Use from 1950-2015

How much water do we use?
In the map below, State size (area) is scaled proportionally to State freshwater use.

USGS Measurements of Dissolved and Suspended Particulate Material Selenium in Lake Koocanusa in the Vicinity of Libby Dam (MT), 2015-2017 (update)

The U.S. Geological Survey is studying Lake Koocanusa, a border reservoir between British Columbia in Canada and Montana, in collaboration with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Region 8). This work is part of a multi-agency project to apply an ecosystem-scale selenium modeling methodology (Presser and Luoma, 2010) to the lake to support

Peak-flow frequency analyses for 14 selected streamgages in the Ruby, Jefferson, and Madison River Basins, Montana, based on data through water year 2016

The USGS Wyoming-Montana Water Science Center (WYMT WSC) recently completed a report (Sando and McCarthy, 2018) documenting methods for peak-flow frequency analysis following implementation of the Bulletin 17C guidelines. The methods are used to provide estimates of peak-flow quantiles for 50-, 42.9-, 20-, 10-, 4-, 2-, 1-, 0.5-, and 0.2-percent annual exceedance probabilities (AEPs) for selected s

Data for Biogeochemical and Physical Processes Controlling Mercury and Selenium Bioaccumulation in Bighorn Lake, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Montana and Wyoming, 2015-2016

This dataset includes the field measurements and laboratory analyses of surface water, seston, fish tissue, and sediment samples collected from Bighorn Lake, within Bighorn Canyon National Recreation area (BICA), during high flow (July 2015) and low flow (August 2016) conditions. The study area includes 7-9 sampling sites that follow a transect spanning the entire length of the reservoir from the

Montana Crest-Stage Gage Network

The purpose of the crest-stage gage network is to inventory and monitor peak discharges throughout the state of Montana, with special emphasis on streams that may damage transportation infrastructure.  Recorded data documenting peak streamflow at various sites within the state will be used by the Montana Department of Transportation to support assessments of culvert size, bridge construction, and


Streams throughout the country are routinely sampled for their water quality. Water-quality data are available for active sites and historical sites from the USGS National Water Information System Web Interface (NWISWeb). NWISWeb has discrete water-quality sample data as well as continuous water-quality data. 

Water-quality sampling sites in the upper Clark fork Basin, Montana

Mining in the upper Clark Fork Basin has resulted in substantial effects on water quality from large amounts of waste materials enriched with metallic contaminants. The U.S. Geological Survey has collected data since 1985 to document changes in water quality that might have resulted from remediation activities. 

Real-time groundwater data sites in the WLCI area

Four wells in the WLCI area are continuously monitored to help describe the interaction between the groundwater and surface water.