Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Importance of return flow as a component of water use

January 1, 1994

Understanding the relation between the hydrologjc cycle and water use is important for effective water-resources management. The hydrologic cycle is the natural pathway of water from evaporation to precipitation to infiltration or runoff and to storage from which evaporation can again occur. The science of water use is the study of human influences on the hydrologic cycle. Human activities affect the hydrologic cycle by changing the quantity, distribution, and quality of available water. Quantifying return flow is useful to water managers in evaluating such changes. Return flow is often thought of as what runs down the drain, or what is leftover after the water's purpose has been served. As innocuous as that may sound, return flow plays a significant part in the overall water-use picture.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1990
Title Importance of return flow as a component of water use
DOI 10.3133/ofr90197
Authors L.C. Trotta, M.S. Horn
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 90-197
Index ID ofr90197
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Minnesota Water Science Center