Water Resources

How We Use Water

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National Water Census Data Portal

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Data Visualization of Water Use in the U.S. 2015

Data Visualization of Water Use in the U.S. 2015

Explore water use data by state and county for 2015

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Filter Total Items: 91
Date published: March 3, 2019
Status: Active

Hydrologic and Erosion Responses of Burned Watersheds

The enhanced probability of catastrophic wildfires has increased our need to understand the risk of floods, erosion, and debris and contaminant transport in burned watersheds. This project investigates the relation between rainfall intensity and peak discharge; erosion and deposition processes; and water-quality impacts to minimize the loss of life and property resulting from post-wildfire...

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 3, 2019
Status: Active

Office of the Delaware River Master

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a Decree in State of New Jersey v. State of New York and City of New York in which the Court established the position of the Delaware River Master.  The Court directed that the River Master perform multiple duties and functions including administering the provisions of the Decree relating to yields, diversions, and releases; conserving the waters of the...

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 3, 2019
Status: Active

Total Water Use

The USGS has estimated water use for the United States every 5 years since 1950. Estimates are provided for groundwater and surface-water sources, for fresh and saline water quality, and by sector or category of use. Estimates have been made at the State level since 1950, and at the county level since 1985. Water-use estimates by watershed were made from 1950 through 1995, first at the water-...

Date published: March 3, 2019
Status: Active

Trends in Water Use

Total withdrawals for all categories of use in 2015 were estimated to be 322 billion gallons per day (Bgal/d), a level of withdrawal not reported since before 1970. Total withdrawals in 2015 were 9 percent less than in 2010, continuing a sharp but steady downward trend since 2005. Freshwater withdrawals were also 9 percent less than in 2015.

Date published: March 3, 2019
Status: Active

Surface-Water Use

Surface-water sources include streams and rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and oceans. For the purposes of the USGS water-use reports, surface water with less than 1,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of dissolved solids is considered freshwater, and the remainder is considered saline.

Surface-water resources are often evaluated by watershed. The most recent USGS water-use estimates by...

Date published: March 3, 2019
Status: Active

Groundwater Use

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...

Date published: March 3, 2019
Status: Active

Transportation-Related Water Projects

The USGS has a long history of cooperative investigations with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and state highway agencies to provide data and information to address various issues related to water resources and the Nation’s transportation infrastructure. These issues cover a wide spectrum and include items such as regional flow statistics, flood documentation, regional stream...

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 2, 2019
Status: Active

Emerging Contaminants

Emerging contaminants, or contaminants of emerging concern, can refer to many different kinds of chemicals, including medicines, personal care or household cleaning products, lawn care and agricultural products, among others. These chemicals make it into our Nation's lakes and rivers and have a detrimental affect on fish and other aquatic species. That have also been shown to...

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 2, 2019
Status: Active

Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is the process of injecting water, sand, and/or chemicals into a well to break up underground bedrock to free up oil or gas reserves. The USGS monitors the environmental impact of this practice across the country, from potential earthquakes to degraded groundwater quality.

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 2, 2019
Status: Active

Land Subsidence

More than 80 percent of known land subsidence in the U.S. is a consequence of groundwater use, and is an often overlooked environmental consequence of our land and water-use practices. Increasing land development threatens to exacerbate existing land-subsidence problems and initiate new ones. Subsidence detection and mapping done by the USGS is needed to understand and manage our current and...

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 2, 2019
Status: Active

National Water Census: Water Use

Through the National Water Census, USGS will provide more comprehensive reporting of national information on withdrawal, conveyance, consumptive use, and return flow by water-use category. Water-use data enables water managers to plan more strategically and enables the analysis of trends of over time. It is also vital to water-availability studies such as watershed and groundwater models.

Date published: March 2, 2019
Status: Active

National Water Census: Environmental Flows

Environmental water studies refer to understanding the quantity, timing, and quality of water flows, as well as the water levels and storage required to sustain freshwater and estuarine ecosystems and the human livelihoods that depend on these ecosystems. The concept of ‘environmental flows’ in stream ecology are the basis of these studies, but they go beyond the understanding of surface flows...

Attribution: Water Resources