News Feature | July 2, 2018

Americans Using Less Water Than Ever

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,
@sarmje

kids water reg new

A new report from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) spells out water use trends in the U.S. It is the 14th in a series of reports on U.S. water use, published every five years. These reports represent the longest record of water use data in the U.S.

“In per capita terms, domestic water use has plummeted from 112 gallons per day in 1980 to just 82 gallons in 2015, a 27 percent decrease,” The Washington Post reported.

“The national average per capita usage fell by six gallons per capita per day, from 88 gallons in 2010 to 82 in 2015. These levels are down significantly from 100 GPCD in 2005,” Popular Science reported.

“The report states that withdrawals of water were down despite the fact that the total population if the US increased by four percent during the 2010 to 2015 period,” The Daily Express reported.

Domestic water use is just one small part of the nation’s water use picture.

“Thermoelectric power (e.g., steam-driven electric turbines) accounts for 41 percent of all water use, while irrigation for crops eats up another 37 percent,” The Washington Post reported.

“Irrigation withdrawals were two percent higher than in 2010, at 118 billion gallons per day,” Popular Science reported.

Americans use more water at home compared to people in other wealthy nations. In the U.K., people use an average of 37 gallons per day, and in Germany, people use an average of 32 gallons per day.

“Part of the issue is that water in the United States remains very cheap relative to other countries, which has led some economists to call for smarter, more flexible pricing schemes in America's water markets,” The Washington Post reported.

Tim Petty, assistant secretary for Water and Science at the Department of the Interior, framed the results of the report as positive developments.

“The downward trend in water use shows a continued effort towards efficient use of critical water resources, which is encouraging,” he said in a statement. “Water is the one resource we cannot live without, and when it is used wisely, it helps to ensure there will be enough to sustain human needs, as well as ecological and environmental needs.”

Image credit: "playing with water," nicholas wang © 2012, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/