US Water Demand Declines Steeply in 2015 in USGS Report

Public Supply Withdrawals Decreased by 7%

USGS-Water-US-in-US-2015-coverLead by California and Texas, public water withdrawals continue to decline even as population increases according to the USGS Summary of Estimated Water Use in the US 2015 update, recently issued by USGS.  The report confirms the significant impact of urban water efficiency across the US.  Public withdrawals in 2015 were 7% lower than in 2010, and 2015 was the lowest year since 1985.  Per capita use in 2015 was 11.5% lower than in 2010, demonstrating the efficiency increases achieved.
"The latest report from the USGS confirms the tremendous water efficiency gains we have achieved over the past ten years," said Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency.  "This is the first USGS report since the start of the EPA WaterSense program and an 11.5% reduction in per capita suggests a substantial impact."
Public supply withdrawals prepared every five years by the USGS are a critical water demand benchmark for municipal water providers. The Alliance for Water Efficiency has summarized the USGS public supply withdrawals from 1950 - 2015, and the results show a striking decline in withdrawals starting in 2010.  Per capita water use peaked in 1990 and has been declining in every report since then, a remarkable achievement and a clear indication of the success of water efficiency efforts.

From 2010 to 2015, population in the United States relying on public supply increased 5.2 percent, or approximately 14 million people. as shown in Figure 1. Total withdrawals for public supply were about 39,200 million gallons per day (MGD) in 2015 and decreased 7 percent, or about 2,890 MGD from 2010 (42,100 MGD) to 2015 (39,200 MGD), continuing the decline in public-supply withdrawals observed from 2005 to 2010.

The largest decreases in total public-supply withdrawals at the state level were in California and Texas (1,150 MGD and 1,110 MGD, respectively). Decreases in California and Texas accounted for 78 percent of the overall reduction. Thirty-four other states had estimated decreases in public-supply withdrawals and 16 states had decreases or were largely unchanged.

 US public supply withdrawals and gpcd 1950 - 2015 

Per capita water use (Figure 2), peaked in 1990 at 184.0 gpcd and in 2015 was 138.0 gpcd.  Since the 2010 USGS summary, per capita use decreased from 157.1 to 138.0 gpcd, a 12.1 percent reduction.

These results come from the Estimated Water Demand in the US 2015 update report from USGS, released in June 2018.  A more complete and detailed report will be issued after 2020.

AWE’s Water Use in the US page, offers more information on water use trends in the US based on data from the US Geological Survey.