How much water is used by people in the United States?

Since 1950, the USGS has collected and analyzed water-use data for the United States and its Territories. That data is revised every 5 years.

As of 2015, the United States uses 322 billion gallons of water per day (Bgal/day). The three largest water-use categories were irrigation (118 Bgal/day), thermoelectric power (133 Bgal/day), and public supply (39 Bgal/day), cumulatively accounting for 90 percent of the national total.

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What is the Earth's "water cycle?"

The water cycle , also known as the hydrologic cycle, describes the continuous movement of water as it makes a circuit from the oceans to the atmosphere to the Earth and on again. Most of Earth's water is in the oceans. The sun, which drives the water cycle, heats water in the oceans. Some of it evaporates as vapor into the air. Rising vapor cools...

How much natural water is there?

Earth is estimated to hold about 1,460,000,000 cubic kilometers of water. The breakdown of where all that water resides is estimated as follows: Oceans (saline) 1,419,120,000 cubic kilometers Ice caps and glaciers (fresh) 31,244,000 cubic kilometers Groundwater (fresh and saline) 8,906,000 cubic kilometers Streams and lakes (fresh) 132,860 cubic...

Where can I find information about my local drinking water supply?

The best way to learn about your local drinking water quality is to read the annual drinking water quality report/consumer confidence report that water suppliers now send out by July 1 of each year. The reports are often sent out with water bills, but they may be sent separately. The reports tell where drinking water comes from, what contaminants...

Where can I find information about bottled water?

Bottled water is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and by individual states. For general information about bottled water, sources include the International Bottled Water Association and NSF International .

Is saline water used for anything?

In the U.S., about 13 percent of all water used is saline water . But saline water can only be used for certain purposes. The main use is for thermoelectric power-plant cooling. About 5 percent of water used for industrial purposes is saline, and about 53 percent of all water used for mining purposes is saline. Saline water can be desalinated for...
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Date published: June 19, 2018

Water Use Across the United States Declines to Levels Not Seen Since 1970

Reductions in water use first observed in 2010 continue, show ongoing effort towards “efficient use of critical water resources.”

Date published: December 14, 2016

How Much Water Do We Use?

The USGS National Water-Use Science project has documented 60 years of water-use from 1950 to 2010 in an interactive map.  Choose a year and pick a category to see how much water your state uses. 

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: April 29, 2016

Mapping Water Use: Landsat and America’s Water Resources

As droughts rage and aquifers dwindle, people may wonder: Is there enough water to meet all our needs?  Landsat satellites are helping to answer that question.

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Drinking water from tap
December 31, 2016

Drinking water from tap

The quality of the water we drink can potentially impact our health. The USGS has several programs and cooperative projects that characterize the quality of selected rivers and aquifers used as sources of drinking water to community water systems in the United States.

Attribution: Water Resources
November 20, 2014

PubTalk 11/2014 — Water, Nuts, and the Nation's Fruit Bowl

California's Central Valley Hydrologic Science

by Claudia Faunt, USGS Hydrologist


  • Using about 1% of U.S. farmland, California's Central Valley supplies 7% of the U.S. agricultural output (by value) -- 1/4 of the Nation's food, including about half of the Nation's fruits, nuts, and vegetables.
  • Approximately 20
August 30, 2012

PubTalk 8/2012 — Global Food Security in the 21st Century

--the increasing need for food production, cropland areas, and agricultural water

by Prasad Thenkabail, Research Geographer

  • Worldwide demand for food will require more than one billion hectares of new cropland to feed 9 billion plus people by 2050
  • Presently, of all the water used by humans over 70% goes towards
Industrial water use: Brunswick Cellulose paper plant, Brunswick, Georgia
October 25, 2009

Industrial water use: Brunswick Cellulose paper plant, Brunswick, GA

Industrial Water Use
Georgia Pacific Brunswick Cellulose paper plant, Brunswick, Georgia, USA

The industries that produce metals, wood and paper products, chemicals, gasoline and oils, and those invaluable grabber utensils you use to get your ring out of the garbage disposal are major users of water. Probably every manufactured product uses

Townsend Montana Water Use Irrigation
December 31, 2007

Townsend Montana Water Use Irrigation

Wheel lines irrigation system used for water use in Townsend Montana

Domestic water use, 2010, by State

Domestic water use, 2010

Domestic water use by State for 2010, including self-supplied withdrawals and deliveries from public supply.

Map of irrigation water use by county for 2010

Water use for irrigation, 2010

County choropleth map of water withdrawals for irrigation, 2010