Groundwater Use

Science Center Objects

Groundwater refers to all subsurface water, specifically that part of groundwater which is in the saturated zone. Groundwater sources are called aquifers: geologic formations that contain sufficient saturated permeable material to yield significant quantities of water to wells and springs. For the purposes of the USGS water-use reports, groundwater with less than 1,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of dissolved solids is considered freshwater, and the remainder is considered saline.

Water withdrawals from groundwater sources are reported by category, for the area types of county and State. Groundwater withdrawals by watershed were last estimated in 1995. USGS estimated groundwater withdrawals by principal aquifers for the year 2000.


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


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.,

Total groundwater withdrawals were 84,700 Mgal/d, of which 97 percent (82,300 Mgal/d) was freshwater.

Groundwater withdrawals in 2015

Groundwater withdrawals, top States, 2015
[percentages calculated from unrounded values]
State Percentage of 
total withdrawals
Cumulative percentage
of total withdrawals
California 21% 21%
Arkansas 11% 32%
Texas 9% 40%
Nebraska 7% 47%
Idaho 6% 54%

See trends for withdrawals by source and by water-use category