Water Resources

How We Use Water

National Water Census Data Portal

National Water Census Data Portal

National estimates of water budget components and more

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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: 92
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
Date published: March 2, 2019
Status: Active

National Water Census: Evapotranspiration

No water budget would be complete without accounting for evaporation and related processes, such as transpiration and sublimation. Evapotranspiration, or "ET," refers to the combined flux of plant transpiration and evaporation from the adjacent soil. It is especially important for understanding water used by irrigated crops, and is related to crop productivity. Consumptive water use for...

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

Agriculture and the Quality of the Nation's Waters

Intensive studies by the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project in agricultural areas provide insight into how agricultural activities have altered the natural flow of water and the way that agricultural chemicals enter streams and aquifers, and in particular how nutrients affect algal and invertebrate communities in agricultural streams.

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

Agricultural Contaminants

About 40 percent of the land in the United States is used for agriculture, and agriculture supplies a major part of the our food, feed, and fiber needs. Agricultural chemicals move into and through every component of the hydrologic system, including air, soil, soil water, streams, wetlands, and groundwater.

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

Arsenic and Drinking Water

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element, but long-term exposure can cause cancer in people. There has been a substantial amount of research done to address arsenic in groundwater and drinking-water supplies around the country. The USGS studies local and national sources of arsenic to help health officials better manage our water resources.

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

Large Oil Spills

Oil spills, such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, are impactful environmental disasters that have long lasting effects to the landscape, native species, and inhabitants who depend on the area. The USGS explores the adverse effect that large-scale oil spills have on the environment and helps responders prepare for environmental recovery and rehabilitation.

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 1, 2019
Status: Active

Public Supply Water Use

Public supply refers to water withdrawn by public and private water suppliers that provide water to at least 25 people or have a minimum of 15 connections. Public-supply water is delivered to users for domestic, commercial, and...

Date published: March 1, 2019
Status: Active

Domestic Water Use

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-...

Date published: March 1, 2019
Status: Active

Irrigation Water Use

Irrigation water use includes water that is applied by an irrigation system to sustain plant growth in agricultural and horticultural practices. Irrigation also includes water that is used for pre-irrigation, frost protection, chemical application, weed control, field preparation, crop cooling, harvesting, dust suppression, and leaching salts from the root zone. Estimates of irrigation...

Date published: March 1, 2019
Status: Active

Thermoelectric Power Water Use

Water for thermoelectric power is used in the process of generating electricity with steam-driven turbine generators. Since 2000, thermoelectric-power withdrawals have been compiled by cooling-system type. Once-through cooling refers to cooling systems in which water is circulated through heat exchangers, and then returned to the source. Recirculating cooling refers to cooling systems in which...

Date published: March 1, 2019
Status: Active

Industrial Water Use

Industrial withdrawals provide water for such purposes as fabricating, processing, washing, diluting, cooling, or transporting a product; incorporating water into a product; or for sanitation needs within the manufacturing facility. Some industries that use large amounts of water produce such commodities as food, paper, chemicals, refined petroleum, or primary metals. Water for industrial use...

Date published: March 1, 2019
Status: Active

Mining Water Use

Mining water use is water used for the extraction of minerals that may be in the form of solids, such as coal, iron, sand, and gravel; liquids, such as crude petroleum; and gases, such as natural gas. The category includes quarrying, milling of mined materials, injection of water for secondary oil recovery or for unconventional oil and gas recovery (such as hydraulic fracturing), and other...