Water Use in Washington Decreased from 2005-2010

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Decreases in freshwater withdrawn for irrigation and thermoelectric power led to a 15 percent overall decrease in freshwater use in Washington between 2005 and 2010, according to a report published today by the U. S. Geological Survey.

TACOMA, Wash. — Decreases in freshwater withdrawn for irrigation and thermoelectric power led to a 15 percent overall decrease in freshwater use in Washington between 2005 and 2010, according to a report published today by the U. S. Geological Survey.

The report presents regional, county and state-level estimates of freshwater withdrawn in Washington in 2010 for homes, irrigation, livestock, aquaculture, industry, mining and thermoelectric power.

Data on the amount of water used are needed by resource managers to balance the demands for water with available water supplies. Water-use information is a key component of managing water supplies, particularly during drought conditions.

"Water managers coping with Washington's low snowpack this year will find these data helpful," said USGS Washington Water Science Center Director, Cindi Barton. "This information is critical for managers and planners to understand how factors such as population, industry, crops, energy production and climate will affect water withdrawals."

In cooperation with local, state and federal agencies, the USGS collects water-use information and compiles the data to produce combined information at the county, state and national levels. Every five years since 1950, the USGS has compiled water-use data collected at the county level into a national water-use database and published a report comparing the state-level data.  The delay between data collection and release is due to the time it takes to compile data from many sources and assure its quality. A separate statewide analysis of the data has been produced since 2009.

The report, "Estimated Freshwater Withdrawals in Washington, 2010," by R.C. Lane and W.B. Welch, is published as U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015-5037 and is available as a PDF online.