Surface-Water Use

Science Center Objects

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 watershed are in Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 1995.

•••  WATER USE HOME  •  TOTAL WATER USE  •  SURFACE WATER USE  •  GROUNDWATER USE  •  TRENDS  •••

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., https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1441.)

Total surface-water withdrawals were estimated to be 237,000 Mgal/d, or 74 percent of total withdrawals. About 84 percent (198,000 Mgal/d) of total surface-water withdrawals were freshwater.

Surface water withdrawals in 2015

Surface-water withdrawals, top States, 2015
[percentages calculated from unrounded values]
State Percentage of 
total withdrawals
Cumulative percentage
of total withdrawals
Texas 6% 6%
Idaho 5% 11%
Florida 5% 16%
California 5% 21%
New York 4% 25%

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