Water wonks rejoice! The 2015 edition of Water Use in the United States has been released by US Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS updates their water use and withdrawal data on different water-use sectors, such as thermoelectric (power plants), agricultural irrigation, public supply (“city water”), industrial and so forth.
The topline stats show that nationwide water use reached its lowest recorded level in 45 years, at 322 billion gallons of water withdrawn per day, which represents a 9 percent reduction since 2010. The thermoelectric and irrigation sectors combine to withdraw 90 percent of all water, with reductions occurring across all sectors except irrigation, that had a 2 percent increase.
This water use decrease happened even as the US population increased 4 percent and the economy grew. As John Fleck of the University of New Mexico has noted, this phenomenon of decoupling water use from population, and economic growth is a trend we are experiencing in the US, much of it stemming from improved water-use efficiency.