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Estimated use of water in the Delaware River Basin in Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, 2010

November 7, 2016

The Delaware River Basin (DRB) was selected as a Focus Area Study in 2011 by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as part of the USGS National Water Census. The National Water Census is a USGS research program that focuses on national water availability and use and then develops new water accounting tools and assesses water availability at both the regional and national scales. One of the water management needs that the DRB study addressed, and that was identified by stakeholder groups from the DRB, was to improve the integration of state water use and water-supply data and to provide the compiled water use information to basin users. This water use information was also used in the hydrologic modeling and ecological components of the study.

Instream and offstream water use was calculated for 2010 for the DRB based on information received from Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Water withdrawal, interbasin transfers, return flow, and hydroelectric power generation release data were compiled for 11 categories by hydrologic subregion, basin, subbasin, and subwatershed. Data availability varied by state. Site-specific data were used whenever possible to calculate public supply, irrigation (golf courses, nurseries, sod farms, and crops), aquaculture, self-supplied industrial, commercial, mining, thermoelectric, and hydroelectric power withdrawals. Where site-specific data were not available, primarily for crop irrigation, livestock, and domestic use, various techniques were used to estimate water withdrawals.

Total water withdrawals in the Delaware River Basin were calculated to be about 7,130 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) in 2010. Calculations of withdrawals by source indicate that freshwater withdrawals were about 4,130 Mgal/d (58 percent of the total) and the remaining 3,000 Mgal/d (42 percent) were from saline water. Total surface-water withdrawals were calculated to be 6,590 Mgal/d, or 92 percent of the total; about 54 percent (3,590 Mgal/d) of surface water withdrawn was freshwater. Total groundwater withdrawals were calculated to be 545 Mgal/d (8 percent of the total), all of which was freshwater. During 2010, calculated withdrawals by category, in decreasing order, were: thermoelectric power, 4,910 Mgal/d; public supply, 1,490 Mgal/d; self-supplied industrial, 350 Mgal/d; irrigation, 175 Mgal/d; self-supplied domestic, 117 Mgal/d; mining, 41.3 Mgal/d; aquaculture, 19.3 Mgal/d; livestock, 6.72 Mgal/d, and commercial, 5.89 Mgal/d. The amount of instream use for hydroelectric power generation purposes in 2010 was reported to be 273 Mgal/d for the Wallenpaupack Plant and 127 Mgal/d for the Mongaup River system.

Total return flows in the DRB were 2,960 Mgal/d in 2010. Although municipal wastewater-treatment plants accounted for 539 (97 percent) of the return-flow sites, they accounted for about 70 percent of the total return flows in the DRB. There was limited information on return flows from thermoelectric power.

Publication Year 2016
Title Estimated use of water in the Delaware River Basin in Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, 2010
DOI 10.3133/sir20155142
Authors Susan S. Hutson, Kristin S. Linsey, Russell A. Ludlow, Betzaida Reyes, Jennifer L. Shourds
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2015-5142
Index ID sir20155142
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Maryland Water Science Center