Since 1950, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has collected data on amounts of water used in homes, businesses, industries, and on farms throughout the United States. Water-use data are collected every five years. The USGS has compiled the data so we can see how our water use in the United States has changed over the past 50-plus years.
|San Diego River in California|
U.S. Geographical Survey that shows the population growth and water usage in the United States since 1950. Between 1950 and 1980 there was a steady increase in water use. Contrary to what we would expect, reported water withdrawals in the United States declined in 1985 even though the population was still growing. Water withdrawals have remained relatively stable since then even though the population has steadily grown:
Thanks to changes in technology, in State and Federal laws, in economic factors, and in water conservation, we are more efficient in our use of the water from the Nation's rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and aquifers. So even as the population grew, our use of water has become more efficient and our water consumption has remained relatively stable over the past 30 years.
|Old Mission Dam in California|
|Cornfield in Iowa|
From these charts, we can tell that more than one-fourth of the total water used in the United States in 2005 was withdrawn in California, Texas, Idaho, and Florida. California accounted for 11 percent of all withdrawals in the United States in 2005. Nearly three-fourths of the freshwater withdrawn in California was for irrigation, and 98 percent of saline water withdrawn was for thermoelectric-power generation.
|Thermoelectric power plant|
|Backyard swimming pool in California|