Trends in Water Use

Science Center Objects

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.


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


Water Use Trends, 1950-2015

(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., 

Trends in population and freshwater withdrawals by source, 1950–2015

The drop in total withdrawals in 2015 was primarily caused by signicant decreases in withdrawals for thermoelectric power (28.8 Bgal/d), which accounted for 89 percent of the decrease in total withdrawals. The decrease in public-supply withdrawals accounted for another 9 percent of the decline in total withdrawals. Categories of use with larger withdrawals in 2015 than in 2010 were irrigation and mining. The increase in irrigation withdrawals was only about 2 percent greater than 2010 levels, partly resulting from updated 2010 data, and mining withdrawals were corrected downward for 2010.

Trends in total water withdrawals by water-use category, 1950–2015