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Drought-vulnerability assessment of public water systems in West Virginia

August 14, 2023

Water withdrawn from rivers and streams accounts for approximately 80 percent of the public water supply in West Virginia. Localized and (or) seasonal droughts may threaten future water availability in the state, particularly in rural communities located in the headwaters of unregulated watersheds. Monthly water withdrawal data obtained from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Large Quantity User program’s regulatory database was used to calculate all-time, seasonal, and monthly 75th quantile withdrawal rates for 109 public water system (PWS) intakes withdrawing from surface waters in West Virginia. A drought-vulnerability assessment value was calculated by comparing PWS withdrawal rates to the 1-day, 10-year hydrologically based streamflow statistic (1Q10) for 71 of the 109 PWS in locations with valid streamflow statistics. Withdrawal rates were evaluated against thresholds representing different levels of drought-related impacts from the West Virginia interagency drought plan and ecological-flow literature. The drought-vulnerability assessment found 33 of 71 PWS have 75th quantile withdrawal rates greater than 100 percent of 1Q10 streamflow. Forty-five of 71 PWS have 75th quantile withdrawal rates more than 10 percent of 1Q10 streamflow, suggesting some level of ecological impairment during severe drought. Additionally, a publicly available, near real-time drought-awareness web tool was created to compare the estimated withdrawal rate for 109 PWS to forecast streamflows from the National Water Model to support decision-making for emergency and water managers.

Publication Year 2023
Title Drought-vulnerability assessment of public water systems in West Virginia
DOI 10.3133/ofr20231057
Authors Matthew R. Kearns, Kaycee E. Faunce, Terence Messinger
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2023-1057
Index ID ofr20231057
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Virginia and West Virginia Water Science Center