Tags: USGS | water | use | gallons

USGS: US Water Use Finally Declining

By    |   Thursday, 13 November 2014 09:31 AM

Water use in the United States has dropped to its lowest level in 45 years, but don't bother to give much credit to environmentally conscious consumers.

The public reduced water use by only about 5 percent from 2005 to 2010, the most recent period measured by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

However, the overall drop in national water usage was 13 percent during that time period. It turns out the overwhelming savings came from large-scale industrial users, the agency said

USGS hydrologist Molly Maupin, lead author of the latest water survey, said about three-quarters of the decline came from changes in electricity generation, with much of the rest caused by new efficiencies in irrigation.

"Irrigation withdrawals in the United States continued to decline since 2005, and more croplands were reported as using higher-efficiency irrigation systems in 2010," Maupin explained. "Shifts toward more sprinkler and micro-irrigation systems nationally and declining withdrawals in the West have contributed to a drop in the national average."

Manufacturers adopted techniques such as recycling of water to help trim costs, and the recession also reduced demand.

The USGS said an increase in the number of power plants build or converted to use more efficient cooling-system technologies played a key part in the decline.

Nationwide, about 355 billion gallons of water were used per day in 2010, compared with 410 billion a day in 2005. Twelve states accounted for more than 50 percent of the total, in order California, Texas, Idaho, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, New York, Alabama and Ohio.

Per capita water use in the U.S. fell to 89 gallons per day in 2010 from 100 gallons in 2005.

Projections of global water shortage in the future may mean that water ultimately will be traded as a commodity, with different grades based on supply, treatment, reuse or disposal features, trade publication Industrial Water World reported.

"Both fracking and mining methodologies require substantial volumes of water, and there is much debate surrounding available supply sources, environmental impact and disposal guidelines," the publication said.

On average, fracking operations require about 5 million gallons of water per well drilled, the rough equivalent to the daily supply for 40,000 people. In California alone, the state with the biggest water shortages, there are an estimated 7,200 actively fracked wells.

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Water use in the United States has dropped to its lowest level in 45 years, but don't bother to give much credit to environmentally conscious consumers.
USGS, water, use, gallons
Thursday, 13 November 2014 09:31 AM
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