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USGS water use report

Water Use Hits Lowest Level Since Before 1970

USGS water use reportWater use across the US reached its lowest recorded level in nearly 45 years, according to a US Geological Survey report that says about 355 billion gallons of water per day (Bgal/d) were withdrawn for use in the entire US during 2010.

This represents a 13 percent reduction of water use from 2005 when about 410 Bgal/d were withdrawn and the lowest level since before 1970.

In 2010, more than 50 percent of the total withdrawals in the US were accounted for by 12 states in order of withdrawal amounts: California, Texas, Idaho, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, New York, Alabama and Ohio.

Water withdrawn for thermoelectric power was the largest use nationally, with the other leading uses being irrigation, public supply and self-supplied industrial water, respectively. Withdrawals declined in each of these categories.

Collectively, all of these uses represented 94 percent of total withdrawals from 2005-2010. Thermoelectric power declined 20 percent, the largest percent decline. Irrigation withdrawals (all freshwater) declined 9 percent. Public-supply withdrawals declined 5 percent. Self-supplied industrial withdrawals declined 12 percent.

The report attributes a number of factors to the 20 percent decline in thermoelectric-power withdrawals, including an increase in the number of power plants built or converted since the 1970s that use more efficient cooling-system technologies, declines in withdrawals to protect aquatic habitat and environments, power plant closures and a decline in the use of coal to fuel power plants.

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