Domestic Water Use

Science Center Objects

Domestic water use includes indoor and outdoor uses at residences, and includes uses such as drinking, food preparation, bathing, washing clothes and dishes, flushing toilets, watering lawns and gardens, and maintaining pools. Domestic water use includes potable and non-potable water provided to households by a public water supplier (domestic deliveries) and self-supplied water use. Self-supplied domestic water use is typically withdrawn from a private source, such as a well, or captured as rainwater in a cistern.


Public Supply  •  Domestic  •  Irrigation  •  Thermoelectric Power  •  Industrial  •  Mining  •  Livestock  •  Aquaculture




Domestic well in south Georgia

Domestic well in south Georgia serves the water needs of one household (Credit: Alan Cressler, USGS)

2015 Water Use

(source: Dieter, C.A., Maupin, M.A., Caldwell, R.R., Harris, M.A., Ivahnenko, T.I., Lovelace, J.K., Barber, N.L., and Linsey, K.S., 2018, Estimated use of water in the United States in 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1441, 65 p.,

The majority of people in the United States used water provided by public suppliers. Domestic deliveries by public water suppliers totaled 23,300 Mgal/d in 2015 and represented water provided to 283 million people at single-family and multifamily dwellings.

Self-supplied withdrawals for domestic use were estimated at 3,260 Mgal/d, or about 1 percent of total withdrawals for all uses in 2015, supplying an estimated 42.5 million people. Nearly all (98 percent) of these self-supplied withdrawals were from fresh groundwater sources.

Domestic Water Use Withdrawals in 2015

Total domestic water use (withdrawals and deliveries from public supply), top States, 2015
[percentages calculated from unrounded values]

State Percentage of 
total use
Cumulative percentage 
of total use
California 13% 13%
Texas 9% 21%
Florida 6% 27%
New York 5% 33%
Illinois 4% 37%


Self-supplied domestic withdrawals and deliveries from public supply

Self-supplied domestic withdrawals,
top States, 2015
[percentages calculated from
unrounded values]
  Domestic deliveries from public supply,
top States, 2015
[percentages calculated from
unrounded values]
State Percentage of
total withdrawals
of total
  State Percentage of
total deliveries
of total
Pennsylvania 6% 6%   California 14% 14%
New York 6% 12%   Texas 9% 23%
Michigan 6% 18%   Florida 6% 29%
Florida 5% 23%   New York 5% 35%
North Carolina 5% 28%   Arizona 4% 39%

Self-supplied domestic withdrawals declined 8 percent between 2010 and 2015.  Total domestic use (withdrawals plus deliveries from public supply) declined about 3 percent over this period.

Graph of domestic water use, 1950-2015

Public-supply deliveries for domestic use are not available for 1950, 1955, and 2000.
Values for 1960-1980 include distribution system losses.


Data sources

Methods for estimating domestic deliveries from public suppliers included surveys of public-supply sales information, calculations using coefficients for per capita use, and development of average percentages of deliveries to various customer categories. Self-supplied domestic withdrawals are rarely metered or reported; typically this usage is calculated by multiplying an estimate of the population not served by public supply by a coefficient for daily per capita use. For some States, these coefficients are county-specific averages derived from observed residential water use and population estimates in nearby areas served by public suppliers. Other States use the same coefficient for all counties, commonly one used by State regulatory or planning agencies.

Category history

  • 1950-1955: Rural (included Livestock: estimates were retroactively allocated to Rural Domestic and Livestock in later reports)
  • 1960-1980: Rural Domestic
  • 1985-later: Domestic

Graphic of category changes over time