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Estimated water withdrawals and use in Puerto Rico, 2015

June 30, 2021

Water withdrawals and use in Puerto Rico for 2015 were estimated at 2,372 million gallons per day (Mgal/d), which was 21 percent less than withdrawals and use for 2010. The 2015 total water withdrawal and use estimates were the lowest since 1990 and coincided with a substantial decline of 25 percent in saline-water withdrawals for thermoelectric-power cooling processes from 2010 to 2015. Freshwater withdrawals were 671 Mgal/d, or 28 percent of total water withdrawals, and saline-water withdrawals were 1,701 Mgal/d, or 72 percent of total withdrawals. Fresh surface-water withdrawals were estimated at 548 Mgal/d, 10 percent less than in 2010, whereas fresh groundwater withdrawals were estimated at 122 Mgal/d, 2 percent less than in 2010. Saline surface-water withdrawals were 25 percent less than in 2010.

Freshwater withdrawals were greatest for public-supply water and irrigation in 2015 and, combined, accounted for 98 percent of Puerto Rico’s total freshwater withdrawals. Withdrawals in 2015 for public-supply water (576 Mgal/d) were 14 percent lower and withdrawals for irrigation (78 Mgal/d) were 104 percent greater than in 2010, possibly because of drought conditions in agricultural counties along the south and southeast coasts in 2015. The sources for public-supply water withdrawals in 2015 included surface water (88 percent) and groundwater (12 percent). Withdrawals for other uses, which account for the remaining 2 percent of Puerto Rico’s total freshwater withdrawals, were lower in 2015 than in 2010; specifically, withdrawals for domestic self-supplied use decreased by 78 percent, industrial withdrawals decreased by 15 percent, and withdrawals for livestock decreased by 25 percent. Freshwater withdrawals for thermoelectric power and mining were greater in 2015 than in 2010, increasing by 23 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

The total population of Puerto Rico decreased by 7 percent from 2010 to 2015, from 3.73 million people in 2010 to 3.47 million people in 2015. The number of people who obtained potable water from public-supply water facilities in 2015 was about 3.47 million, or about 100 percent of the population of Puerto Rico.

Public-supply water deliveries for domestic use accounted for 338 Mgal/d in 2015, which is 47 percent greater than in 2010, indicating an increase in domestic per capita use from 62 to 98 gallons per person per day from 2010 to 2015. Domestic self-supplied withdrawals were estimated at 0.52 Mgal/d in 2015, for an estimated 4,708 people (less than 1 percent of Puerto Rico’s population). All domestic self-supplied withdrawals were assumed to be from groundwater sources.

Irrigation freshwater withdrawals were 78 Mgal/d in 2015 and accounted for 12 percent of the total freshwater withdrawals for all uses. Surface-water deliveries from irrigation districts accounted for 44 percent of total irrigation withdrawals, whereas groundwater withdrawals accounted for 56 percent. About 37,000 acres were irrigated in 2015, a decrease of 11 percent or about 4,000 acres compared to 2010. About 99 percent of the acreage was irrigated by micro-irrigation and sprinkler systems in 2015. About 65 percent of the irrigation withdrawals were accounted for by four municipalities: Santa Isabel, Salinas, Lajas, and Juana Díaz.

Altogether, freshwater withdrawals for livestock, industrial, mining, and thermoelectric power accounted for 2 percent (16.2 Mgal/d) of freshwater withdrawals for all uses, 9 percent less than in 2010. About 71 percent of the freshwater withdrawn for these categories was from groundwater sources.

In 2015, 50 percent of the total freshwater withdrawn in Puerto Rico was apportioned to six municipalities: Arecibo, Trujillo Alto, Toa Alta, Villalba, Aguada, and Mayagüez. Arecibo accounted for about 18 percent of the total freshwater withdrawals, predominantly for public-supply water use. Trujillo Alto, Toa Alta, Villalba, Aguada, and Mayagüez accounted for about 32 percent (213 Mgal/d) of the total freshwater withdrawals, which were predominantly for public-supply water uses. Withdrawals in some of these municipalities are subsequently distributed to other municipalities such as those in the San Juan metro area. The Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority water service area for the San Juan metro area (referred to as W–102) accounted for about 28 percent of the total water delivered from public-supply water facilities to domestic users, which includes about 34 percent of the total population of Puerto Rico.

Publication Year 2021
Title Estimated water withdrawals and use in Puerto Rico, 2015
DOI 10.3133/ofr20211060
Authors Wanda L. Molina-Rivera, Michelle M. Irizarry-Ortiz
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2021-1060
Index ID ofr20211060
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Caribbean-Florida Water Science Center