TABLE 1.1 Withdrawals of Water, by Type and Category of Use, 1990

 

 

Percent of

 

Million gals. per day

Total U.S.

Ground or Surface

U.S. Total

408,000

100.0

 

Ground water, total

80,620

19.8

100.0

Public supply

15,100

3.7

18.7

Domestic

3,260

0.8

4.0

Commercial

908

0.2

1.1

Irrigation

51,000

12.5

63.3

Livestock

2,690

0.7

3.3

Industrial

3,960

1.0

4.9

Mining

3,230

0.8

4.0

Thermoelectric

525

0.1

0.7

Surface water, total

327,000

80.1

100.0

Public supply

23,500

5.8

7.2

Domestic

132

0.0

0.0

Commercial

1,480

0.4

0.5

Irrigation

85,500

21.0

26.1

Livestock

1,800

0.4

0.6

Industrial

18,600

4.6

5.7

Mining

1,718

0.4

0.5

Thermoelectric

194,500

47.7

59.5

 

SOURCE: Compiled from Solley et al., 1993. Because of rounding, individual items may not add precisely to totals.

exceeding U.S. population growth in that period. Since 1975 water use has remained essentially flat. The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) singles out three factors to account for that level trend. First, higher energy prices and declines in farm commodity prices in the 1980s reduced the demand for irrigation water and spurred the introduction of more efficient pumping technologies. In addition, pollution control regulations encouraged recycling and reduced discharge of pollutants, thereby decreasing water requirements in the industrial sector. And more generally, the public became increasingly concerned about conservation (Solley et al., 1993). No doubt the slowdown in development of new hydroelectric capacity in the United States contributed as well. However, the USGS does not identify water pricing as a factor in the deceleration of water use, though higher energy prices would have constituted an indirect disincentive to consumption.

Ground water is the predominant source of water supply for rural areas in the United States, primarily for agriculture and domestic use. In 1985 ground water provided drinking water for more than half the U.S. population and 97% of the rural population (Moody, 1990). As Table 1.1 indicates, agriculture (irrigation



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement