Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Location and population served by domestic wells in the conterminous U.S.: 1990

June 29, 2017

In this dataset we present two maps that estimate the location and population served by domestic wells in the contiguous United States. The first methodology, called the Block Group Method or BGM, builds upon the original block-group data from the 1990 census (the last time the U.S. Census queried the population regarding their source of water) by incorporating higher resolution census block data. The second methodology, called the Road-Enhanced Method or REM, refines the locations by using a buffer expansion and shrinkage technique along roadways to define areas where domestic wells exist. The fundamental assumption with this method is that houses (and therefore domestic wells) are located near a named road. The results are presented as two nationally consistent domestic-well population datasets. While both methods can be considered valid, the REM map is more precise in locating domestic wells; the REM map had a smaller amount of spatial bias (nearly equal vs biased in type 1 error), total error (10.9% vs 23.7%,), and distance error (2.0 km vs 2.7 km), when comparing the REM and BGM maps to a California calibration map. However, the BGM map is more inclusive of all potential locations for domestic wells. The primary difference in the BGM and the REM is the mapping of low density areas. The REM has a 57% reduction in areas mapped as low density (populations greater than 0 but less than 1 person per km), concentrating populations into denser regions. Therefore, if one is trying to capture all of the potential areas of domestic-well usage, then the BGM map may be more applicable. If location is more imperative, then the REM map is better at identifying areas of the landscape with the highest probability of finding a domestic well. Depending on the purpose of a study, a combination of both maps can be used. Click on the child items to download either the BGM map or the REM map.