Water Availability and Use Science Program

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The Water Availability and Use Science Program (WAUSP) assists in the determination of water that is available for beneficial uses, now and in the future. This includes evaluating the quantity and quality of water, identifying long-term trends in water availability, and developing an improved ability to forecast the availability of water for economic, energy production, and environmental uses.

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Integrated Water Availability Assessments

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Date published: February 5, 2019

POSTPONED due to weather: Ask Questions and Learn More About the Low-Level Helicopter Flying Above the Mississippi Alluvial Plain

Media:            Please join the U.S. Geological Survey, CGG Airborne and various partners for a demonstration of the low-flying helicopter and description of what scientists are seeking in and around the Mississippi Alluvial Plain.

Date published: December 13, 2018

Seeking Water from Above: Low-Level Helicopter to Fly Southern Portion of Mississippi Alluvial Plain

Editor:  In the public interest and in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, the USGS is announcing this low-level airborne project.  Your assistance informing the local communities is appreciated.  

Date published: November 8, 2018

Back and Forth: Ask Questions and Learn More About the Low-Level Helicopter Flying Above the Mississippi Alluvial Plain

Media:            Please join the U.S. Geological Survey, CGG Airborne, and various partners for a demonstration takeoff of the low-flying helicopter and description of what scientists are seeking in/around the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. Please RSVP to Heidi Koontz at 720-320-1246 or hkoontz@usgs.gov.

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Date published: March 4, 2019
Status: Active

Water Use in the United States

The USGS works in cooperation with local, State, and Federal agencies to collect water-use information, then compiles these data to produce water-use information aggregated at the county, state, and national levels. Every five years, data at the county level are compiled into a national water-use data system and State-level data are published in a national...

Date published: March 3, 2019
Status: Active

Total Water Use

The USGS has estimated water use for the United States every 5 years since 1950. Estimates are provided for groundwater and surface-water sources, for fresh and saline water quality, and by sector or category of use. Estimates have been made at the State level since 1950, and at the county level since 1985. Water-use estimates by watershed were made from 1950 through 1995, first at the water-...

Date published: March 3, 2019
Status: Active

Trends in Water Use, 1950-2015

Total withdrawals for all categories of use in 2015 were estimated to be 322 billion gallons per day (Bgal/d), a level of withdrawal not reported since before 1970. Total withdrawals in 2015 were 9 percent less than in 2010, continuing a sharp but steady downward trend since 2005. Freshwater withdrawals were also 9 percent less than in 2015.

Date published: March 3, 2019
Status: Active

Surface-Water Use

Surface-water sources include streams and rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and oceans. For the purposes of the USGS water-use reports, surface water with less than 1,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of dissolved solids is considered freshwater, and the remainder is considered saline.

Surface-water resources are often evaluated by watershed. The most recent USGS water-use estimates by...

Date published: March 3, 2019
Status: Active

Groundwater Use

Groundwater refers to all subsurface water, specifically that part of groundwater which is in the saturated zone. Groundwater sources are called aquifers: geologic formations that contain sufficient saturated permeable material to yield significant quantities of water to wells and springs. For the purposes of the USGS water-use reports, groundwater with less than 1,000 milligrams per liter (mg...

Date published: March 1, 2019
Status: Active

Public Supply Water Use

Public supply refers to water withdrawn by public and private water suppliers that provide water to at least 25 people or have a minimum of 15 connections. Public-supply water is delivered to users for domestic, commercial, and...

Date published: March 1, 2019
Status: Active

Domestic Water Use

Domestic water use includes indoor and outdoor uses at residences, and includes uses such as drinking, food preparation, bathing, washing clothes and dishes, flushing toilets, watering lawns and gardens, and maintaining pools. Domestic water use includes potable and non-potable water provided to households by a public water supplier (domestic deliveries) and self-supplied water use. Self-...

Date published: March 1, 2019
Status: Active

Irrigation Water Use

Irrigation water use includes water that is applied by an irrigation system to sustain plant growth in agricultural and horticultural practices. Irrigation also includes water that is used for pre-irrigation, frost protection, chemical application, weed control, field preparation, crop cooling, harvesting, dust suppression, and leaching salts from the root zone. Estimates of irrigation...

Date published: March 1, 2019
Status: Active

Thermoelectric Power Water Use

Water for thermoelectric power is used in the process of generating electricity with steam-driven turbine generators. Since 2000, thermoelectric-power withdrawals have been compiled by cooling-system type. Once-through cooling refers to cooling systems in which water is circulated through heat exchangers, and then returned to the source. Recirculating cooling refers to cooling systems in which...

Date published: March 1, 2019
Status: Active

Industrial Water Use

Industrial withdrawals provide water for such purposes as fabricating, processing, washing, diluting, cooling, or transporting a product; incorporating water into a product; or for sanitation needs within the manufacturing facility. Some industries that use large amounts of water produce such commodities as food, paper, chemicals, refined petroleum, or primary metals. Water for industrial use...

Date published: March 1, 2019
Status: Active

Mining Water Use

Mining water use is water used for the extraction of minerals that may be in the form of solids, such as coal, iron, sand, and gravel; liquids, such as crude petroleum; and gases, such as natural gas. The category includes quarrying, milling of mined materials, injection of water for secondary oil recovery or for unconventional oil and gas recovery (such as hydraulic fracturing), and other...

Date published: March 1, 2019
Status: Active

Livestock Water Use

Livestock water use is water associated with livestock watering, feedlots, dairy operations, and other on-farm needs. Livestock includes dairy cows and heifers, beef cattle and calves, sheep and lambs, goats, hogs and pigs, horses, and poultry. Other livestock water uses include cooling of facilities for the animals and products, dairy sanitation and wash down of facilities, animal waste-...

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Date published: February 27, 2019

Water-use data available from USGS

The U.S. Geological Survey compiles water-use estimates every five years for each State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Archived datasets underlying the published "Estimated Use of Water in the United States" reports are available from the above link. County data incorporating any revisions can be found on ...

Date published: September 26, 2018

Water Budgets Across the United States

In this data visualization, you can see how three major components of the water budget vary across the conterminous US. Precipitation is incoming rain and snow; evapotranspiration is outgoing evaporation from soil and water bodies and transpiration through plants; and runoff is excess water that makes its way to lakes and rivers through streams and spring discharges. 

Date published: April 18, 2016

National Water Census - Data Portal

At the National Water Census Data Portal you will find national estimates of water budget components for local watersheds, water withdrawal data for counties, tools to calculate statistics of daily streamflow records, modeled daily streamflow at ungaged stations, and access to records of aquatic biology observations.

Date published: March 15, 2016

Water-use data available from USGS

The U.S. Geological Survey compiles water-use estimates every five years for each State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Archived datasets underlying the published "Estimated Use of Water in the United States" reports are available. Data incorporating any revisions can be found on NWISWeb.

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Year Published: 2018

Continuing progress toward a national assessment of water availability and use

Executive SummaryThe Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (Public Law 111—11) was passed into law on March 30, 2009. Subtitle F, also known as the SECURE Water Act, calls for the establishment of a “national water availability and use assessment program” within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS issued the first report on the...

Evenson, Eric J.; Jones, Sonya A.; Barber, Nancy L.; Barlow, Paul M.; Blodgett, David L.; Bruce, Breton W.; Douglas-Mankin, Kyle; Farmer, William H.; Fischer, Jeffrey M.; Hughes, William B.; Kennen, Jonathan G.; Kiang, Julie E.; Maupin, Molly A.; Reeves, Howard W.; Senay, Gabriel B.; Stanton, Jennifer S.; Wagner, Chad R.; Wilson, Jennifer T.
Evenson, E.J., Jones, S.A., Barber, N.L., Barlow, P.M., Blodgett, D.L., Bruce, B.W., Douglas-Mankin, K., Farmer, W.H., Fischer, J.M., Hughes, W.B., Kennen, J.G., Kiang, J.E., Maupin, M.A., Reeves, H.W., Senay, G.B., Stanton, J.S., Wagner, C.R., and Wilson, J.T., 2018, Continuing progress toward a national assessment of water availability and use: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1440, 64 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1440.

Year Published: 2018

Estimated use of water in the United States in 2015

Water use in the United States in 2015 was estimated to be about 322 billion gallons per day (Bgal/d), which was 9 percent less than in 2010. The 2015 estimates put total withdrawals at the lowest level since before 1970, following the same overall trend of decreasing total withdrawals observed from 2005 to 2010. Freshwater withdrawals were 281...

Dieter, Cheryl A.; Maupin, Molly A.; Caldwell, Rodney R.; Harris, Melissa A.; Ivahnenko, Tamara I.; Lovelace, John K.; Barber, Nancy L.; Linsey, Kristin S.
Dieter, C.A., Maupin, M.A., Caldwell, R.R., Harris, M.A., Ivahnenko, T.I., Lovelace, J.K., Barber, N.L., and Linsey, K.S., 2018, Estimated use of water in the United States in 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1441, 65 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1441. [Supersedes USGS Open-File Report 2017–1131.]

Year Published: 2018

Summary of estimated water use in the United States in 2015

A total of 322 Bgal/d of water withdrawals was reported for eight categories of use in the United States in 2015, which was 9 percent less than in 2010 (354 Bgal/d), and continued a declining trend since 2005. The decline in total withdrawals in 2015 primarily was caused by significant decreases (28.8 Bgal/d) in thermoelectric power, which...

Maupin, Molly A.
Maupin, M.A., 2018, Summary of estimated water use in the United States in 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2018-3035, 2 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20183035.

Year Published: 2016

Hydrogeology and hydrologic conditions of the Ozark Plateaus aquifer system

The hydrogeology and hydrologic characteristics of the Ozark Plateaus aquifer system were characterized as part of ongoing U.S. Geological Survey efforts to assess groundwater availability across the Nation. The need for such a study in the Ozark Plateaus physiographic province (Ozark Plateaus) is highlighted by increasing demand on groundwater...

Hays, Phillip D.; Knierim, Katherine J.; Breaker, Brian K.; Westerman, Drew A.; Clark, Brian R.
Hays, P.D., Knierim, K.J., Breaker, Brian, Westerman, D.A., and Clark, B.R., 2016, Hydrogeology and hydrologic conditions of the Ozark Plateaus aquifer system: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5137, 61 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20165137.

Year Published: 2016

Altitudes and thicknesses of hydrogeologic units of the Ozark Plateaus aquifer system in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma

A hydrogeologic framework was constructed to represent the altitudes and thicknesses of hydrogeologic units within the Ozark Plateaus aquifer system as part of a regional groundwater-flow model supported by the U.S. Geological Survey Water Availability and Use Science Program. The Ozark Plateaus aquifer system study area is nearly 70,000 square...

Westerman, Drew A.; Gillip, Jonathan A.; Richards, Joseph M.; Hays, Phillip D.; Clark, Brian R.
Westerman, D.A., Gillip, J.A., Richards, J.M., Hays, P.D., Clark, B.R., 2016, Altitudes and thicknesses of hydrogeologic units of the Ozark Plateaus aquifer system in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5130, 32 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20165130.

Year Published: 2016

Water use in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, 2010, and water-use trends, 1985-2010

The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin encompasses about 20,230 square miles in parts of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. Increasing population growth and agricultural production from the 1970s to 2010 has prompted increases in water-resources development and substantially increased water demand in the basin. Since the 1980s, Alabama...

Lawrence, Stephen J.
Lawrence, S.J., 2016, Water use in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, 2010, and water-use trends, 1985–2010: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5007, 72 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20165007.

Year Published: 2016

Evaluating Landsat 8 evapotranspiration for water use mapping in the Colorado River Basin

Evapotranspiration (ET) mapping at the Landsat spatial resolution (100 m) is essential to fully understand water use and water availability at the field scale. Water use estimates in the Colorado River Basin (CRB), which has diverse ecosystems and complex hydro-climatic regions, will be helpful to water planners and managers. Availability of...

Senay, Gabriel; Friedrichs, MacKenzie O.; Singh, Ramesh K.; Velpuri, Naga Manohar

Year Published: 2016

Chemical considerations for an updated National assessment of brackish groundwater resources

Brackish groundwater (BGW) is increasingly used for water supplies where fresh water is scarce, but the distribution and availability of such resources have not been characterized at the national scale in the United States since the 1960s. Apart from its distribution and accessibility, BGW usability is a function of the chemical requirements of...

McMahon, Peter B.; Böhlke, John Karl; Dahm, Katharine; Parkhurst, David L.; Anning, David W.; Stanton, Jennifer S.
McMahon, P.B., Böhlke, J.K., Dahm, K.G., Parkhurst, D.L., Anning, D.W. and Stanton, J.S., 2016, Chemical considerations for an updated National assessment of brackish groundwater resources: Groundwater, Issue Paper, 12 p., doi:10.1111/gwat.12367

Year Published: 2016

Geophysical log database for the Floridan aquifer system and southeastern Coastal Plain aquifer system in Florida and parts of Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina

A database of borehole geophysical logs and other types of data files were compiled as part of ongoing studies of water availability and assessment of brackish- and saline-water resources. The database contains 4,883 logs from 1,248 wells in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and from a limited number of offshore wells of the eastern Gulf...

Williams, Lester J.; Raines, Jessica E.; Lanning, Amanda E.
Williams, L.J., Raines, J.E., and Lanning, A.E., 2016, Geophysical log database for the Floridan aquifer system and southeastern Coastal Plain aquifer system in Florida and parts of Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina (ver. 1.1, December 2016): U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 760, 12 p., available at http://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/760/.

Year Published: 2015

Summary of hydrologic modeling for the Delaware River Basin using the Water Availability Tool for Environmental Resources (WATER)

The Water Availability Tool for Environmental Resources (WATER) is a decision support system for the nontidal part of the Delaware River Basin that provides a consistent and objective method of simulating streamflow under historical, forecasted, and managed conditions. In order to quantify the uncertainty associated with these simulations, however...

Williamson, Tanja N.; Lant, Jeremiah G.; Claggett, Peter; Nystrom, Elizabeth A.; Milly, Paul C.D.; Nelson, Hugh L.; Hoffman, Scott A.; Colarullo, Susan J.; Fischer, Jeffrey M.
Williamson, T.N., Lant, J.G., Claggett, P.R., Nystrom, E.A., Milly, P.C.D., Nelson, H.L., Hoffman, S.A., Colarullo, S.J., and Fischer, J.M., 2015, Summary of hydrologic modeling for the Delaware River Basin using the Water Availability Tool for Environmental Resources (WATER): U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5143, 68 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20155143.

Year Published: 2015

User manuals for the Delaware River Basin Water Availability Tool for Environmental Resources (DRB–WATER) and associated WATER application utilities

The Water Availability Tool for Environmental Resources (WATER) is a decision support system (DSS) for the nontidal part of the Delaware River Basin (DRB) that provides a consistent and objective method of simulating streamflow under historical, forecasted, and managed conditions. WATER integrates geospatial sampling of landscape characteristics,...

Williamson, Tanja N.; Lant, Jeremiah G.
Williamson, T.N., and Lant, J.G., 2015, User manuals for the Delaware River Basin Water Availability Tool for Environmental Resources (DRB–WATER) and associated WATER application utilities: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015–1196, 32 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151196.

Year Published: 2015

Progress toward a National Water Census

Increasing demand and competition for limited regional water resources make it difficult to ensure adequate water availability for both human and ecological needs now and into the future. Recognizing the need to improve the tools and information that are available to effectively evaluate water-resource availability, the U.S. Geological Survey (...

Jones, Sonya A.
Jones, Sonya, 2015, Progress Toward a National Water Census: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2015–3045, 2 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/fs20153045. ISSN 2327-6932 (online)

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Date published: July 4, 2016

Water Use Site Retrieval - Lower Mississippi Gulf Arkansas

In 1977, the Congress of the United States recognized the need for uniform, current, and reliable information on water use and directed the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to establish a National Water-Use Information Program (NWUIP) to complement the Survey's data on the availability and quality of the Nations water resources.

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Trends in population and freshwater withdrawals by source, 1950–2015
December 31, 2018

Trends in population and freshwater withdrawals by source, 1950–2015

Trends in population and freshwater withdrawals by source, 1950–2015

Development of geothermal saline groundwater into a warm-spring spa.
December 31, 2018

Development of geothermal saline groundwater into a warm-spring spa.

Development of geothermal saline groundwater into a warm-spring spa.
(Source: State of Florida Department of Natural Resources. Special Publication No. 21, 1977)

Trends in total water withdrawals by water-use category, 1950–2015
December 31, 2018

Trends in total water withdrawals by water-use category, 1950–2015

Trends in total water withdrawals by water-use category, 1950–2015

Groundwater withdrawals in 2015
December 31, 2018

Groundwater withdrawals in 2015

Groundwater withdrawals in 2015

Surface water withdrawals in 2015
December 31, 2018

Surface water withdrawals in 2015

Surface water withdrawals in 2015

Total Saline Groundwater Use, 2010
December 31, 2018

Total Saline Groundwater Use, 2010

Total Saline Groundwater Use, 2010

Public Supply Water Use in 2015
December 31, 2018

Public Supply Water Use in 2015

Public Supply Water Use in 2015

Groundwater Desalination Facilities
December 31, 2018

Groundwater Desalination Facilities

Groundwater Desalination Facilities. Source: Mickley & Associates, written commun., 2013. Survey of municipal desalination plants.

Domestic Water Use Withdrawals in 2015
December 31, 2018

Domestic Water Use Withdrawals in 2015

Domestic Water Use Withdrawals in 2015

Brackish water desalination facility in Harlingen, Texas.
December 31, 2018

Brackish water desalination facility in Harlingen, Texas.

Brackish water desalination facility in Harlingen, Texas. The plant was built in 2007 and has a capacity of 2.25 million gallons per day. Source: North Cameron Regional Water Supply Corporation

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Date published: February 5, 2019

POSTPONED due to weather: Ask Questions and Learn More About the Low-Level Helicopter Flying Above the Mississippi Alluvial Plain

Media:            Please join the U.S. Geological Survey, CGG Airborne and various partners for a demonstration of the low-flying helicopter and description of what scientists are seeking in and around the Mississippi Alluvial Plain.

Date published: December 13, 2018

Seeking Water from Above: Low-Level Helicopter to Fly Southern Portion of Mississippi Alluvial Plain

Editor:  In the public interest and in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, the USGS is announcing this low-level airborne project.  Your assistance informing the local communities is appreciated.  

Date published: November 8, 2018

Back and Forth: Ask Questions and Learn More About the Low-Level Helicopter Flying Above the Mississippi Alluvial Plain

Media:            Please join the U.S. Geological Survey, CGG Airborne, and various partners for a demonstration takeoff of the low-flying helicopter and description of what scientists are seeking in/around the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. Please RSVP to Heidi Koontz at 720-320-1246 or hkoontz@usgs.gov.

Date published: October 25, 2018

Seeking Water from Above: Low-Level Helicopter to Fly Above Mississippi Alluvial Plain

Editor:  In the public interest and in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, the USGS is announcing this low-level airborne project.  Your assistance informing the local communities is appreciated.  

Date published: October 15, 2018

Scientists to Measure Wood River Valley Groundwater Levels

Data Will Help to Improve Groundwater-Flow ModelData Will Help to Improve Groundwater-Flow Model

Date published: June 19, 2018

Water Use Across the United States Declines to Levels Not Seen Since 1970

Reductions in water use first observed in 2010 continue, show ongoing effort towards “efficient use of critical water resources.”

Date published: March 12, 2018

Media Advisory: Water Levels to be Measured in 1,300 Southern Idaho Wells

Data Will Provide a “Snapshot” of the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer

Date published: February 27, 2018

Reservoir Sediment Can be Used as Fracking Proppant

Instead of requiring costly dredging to remove sediment buildup behind water reservoirs and diversions, sediment from reservoirs in the Missouri River Basin could actually be used as fracking proppant feedstock, also known as frac sand, according to a recently published U.S. Geological Survey study

Date published: December 1, 2017

Hundreds of Biological Data Available for Fountain Creek Basin, Colorado 

The U.S. Geological Survey just added more than 800 fish and macroinvertebrate data samples from Fountain Creek, Colorado, to the USGS BioData Retrieval system.

Date published: November 1, 2017

New USGS Study Tracks Millions of Tons of Rocks, Gravel and Silt Carried by the Sauk River

TACOMA, Wash. — The U.S. Geological Survey recently published the results of a new five-year suspended-sediment and water temperature study from the Sauk River. The purpose of this study is to improve understanding of the magnitude and timing of suspended sediment from the Sauk River and its tributaries to the Skagit River.

Date published: September 14, 2017

New USGS Report Uncovers the Underground Geology Along the Rio Grande

A new U.S. Geological Survey report describes the below ground geology of the Rio Grande transboundary region of New Mexico and Texas, United States, and northern Chihuahua, Mexico.

Date published: June 16, 2017

USGS: High Plains Aquifer Groundwater Levels Continue to Decline

The U.S. Geological Survey has released a new report detailing changes of groundwater levels in the High Plains aquifer. The report presents water-level change data in the aquifer for two separate periods: from 1950 – the time prior to significant groundwater irrigation development – to 2015, and from 2013 to 2015.

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