Study: US Using Less Water

A study by local, state, and federal officials tracking water use has found that levels have dropped to those of at least 40 years ago. "This is the first time we've seen this large a decline nationally," said Molly Maupin, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and lead author of the study, Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2010. "The magnitude of the overall decline was a little surprising," she said. The 56-page report released in early November is a snapshot taken at five-year intervals with the most recently compiled information covering 2010. Officials found that in 2010 the US used an average of 355 billion gallons of water per day. That is 13% less than 2005, and the lowest amount since before 1970. The USGS credits advancements in the designs of power plants, factories, and farms' irrigation systems for the water-use drop. Other reasons include new laws, as well as the fact that people are more cognizant of water-saving at home. This is the first time in US history that home water use has fallen. The national average water use is 88 gallons per person per day (gpd), but water use in the West is higher (e.g., Arizona 147 gpd, Idaho 168 gpd, Oregon 113 gpd, Washington 111 gpd, Wyoming 144 gpd, etc.). According to the report, in 2010, more than 50% 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.