USGS Says Despite Population Growth, Water Usage Stable Over Past 25 Years

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 (UPI) — Despite a population increase in the last 25 years, overall water usage has remained fairly stable, a U.S. Geological Survey report released Thursday showed.

The report indicated that in 2005, the year studied, Americans used 410 billion gallons per day, slightly less than in 2000, the USGS said in a release. The drop was attributed to increased use of more efficient irrigation systems and alternative technologies at power plants.

Meanwhile, water withdrawals for public supply increased steadily since 1950 — when USGS began the series of five-year trend reports — along with populations relying on the public supplies, the report, “Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2005,” said.

“The importance of this type of data to the American public cannot be exaggerated,” Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle said. “This information is invaluable in ensuring future water supplies and finding new technologies and efficiencies to conserve water.”

Nearly half — 49 percent — of the 410 billion gallons per day used to produce electricity at thermoelectric power plants, the report said. Irrigation accounted for 31 percent and public supply 11 percent. The remaining 9 percent of the water was for self-supplied industrial, livestock, aquaculture, mining and rural domestic uses.

“Because electricity generation and irrigation together accounted for a massive 80 percent of our water use in 2005, the improvements in efficiency and technology give us hope for the future,” Castle said. “While public-supply withdrawals have continued to increase overall, per capita use has decreased in many states during recent decades.”

Since 1950, the USGS has compiled water usage information by state, the agency said. The information reflects withdrawals from the nation’s rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries and aquifers for major uses.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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