Domestic Water Use

Science Center Objects

Domestic water use is water used for indoor and outdoor household purposes— all the things you do at home: drinking, preparing food, bathing, washing clothes and dishes, brushing your teeth, watering the garden, and even washing the dog. At the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), domestic water use refers to the amount of water that is "self-supplied", or water withdrawn directly by users, such as from a well at a person's home.

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Domestic Water Use

Domestic well in south Georgia

Domestic well in south Georgia serves the water needs of one household. (Credit: Alan Cressler, USGS)

Some of the most important uses for water are at our homes (even if your home is the White House!). Water generally gets to our homes in one of two ways. Either it is delivered by a city/county water department (or maybe from a private company), or people supply their own water, normally from a well. Water delivered to homes is called "public-supplied deliveries" and water that people supply themselves is called "self supplied", and is almost always from groundwater.

The majority of America's population (about 87 percent) gets their water delivered from a public-supply system. This makes sense, as America's population now largely live in urban centers. The trend over the last 70 years is of people moving to urban centers and is reflected in the shrinking numbers of self-supplied people in the Nation.

 

Domestic water use in the United States

Every five years, water withdrawal and use data at the county level are compiled into a national water-use data system, and state-level data are published in a national circular. 

Access the most recent domestic data, maps, and diagrams.