RFG 2018 Conference

water availability

Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2010

Water use in the United States in 2010 was estimated to be about 355 billion gallons per day (Bgal/d), which was 13 percent less than in 2005. The 2010 estimates put total withdrawals at the lowest level since before 1970. Freshwater withdrawals were 306 Bgal/d, or 86 percent of total withdrawals, and saline-water withdrawals were 48.3 Bgal/d, or 14 percent of total withdrawals. Fresh surface-water withdrawals (230 Bgal/d) were almost 15 percent less than in 2005, and fresh groundwater withdrawals (76.0 Bgal/d) were about 4 percent less than in 2005. Saline surface-water withdrawals were 45.0 Bgal/d, or 24 percent less than in 2005. Updates to the 2005 saline groundwater withdrawals, mostly for thermoelectric power, reduced total saline groundwater withdrawals to 1.51 Bgal/d, down from the originally reported 3.02 Bgal/d. Total saline groundwater withdrawals in 2010 were 3.29 Bgal/d, mostly for mining use.

Thermoelectric power and irrigation remained the two largest uses of water in 2010, and total withdrawals for both were notably less than in 2005. Withdrawals in 2010 for thermoelectric power were 20 percent less and withdrawals for irrigation were 9 percent less than in 2005. Similarly, other uses showed reductions compared to 2005, specifically public supply (–5 percent), self-supplied domestic (–3 percent), self-supplied industrial (–12 percent), and livestock (–7 percent). Only mining (39 percent) and aquaculture (7 percent) reported larger withdrawals in 2010 compared to 2005. Thermoelectric power, irrigation, and public-supply withdrawals accounted for 90 percent of total withdrawals in 2010.

Groundwater-level change and evaluation of simulated water levels for irrigated areas in Lahontan Valley, Churchill County, west-central Nevada, 1992 to 2012

The acquisition and transfer of water rights to wetland areas of Lahontan Valley, Nevada, has caused concern over the potential effects on shallow aquifer water levels. In 1992, water levels in Lahontan Valley were measured to construct a water-table map of the shallow aquifer prior to the effects of water-right transfers mandated by the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribal Settlement Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-618, 104 Stat. 3289). From 1992 to 2012, approximately 11,810 water-righted acres, or 34,356 acre-feet of water, were acquired and transferred to wetland areas of Lahontan Valley. This report documents changes in water levels measured during the period of water-right transfers and presents an evaluation of five groundwater-flow model scenarios that simulated water-level changes in Lahontan Valley in response to water-right transfers and a reduction in irrigation season length by 50 percent.

Assessment of groundwater availability in the Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain aquifer system From Long Island, New York, to North Carolina

The U.S. Geological Survey began a multiyear regional assessment of groundwater availability in the Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain (NACP) aquifer system in 2010 as part of its ongoing regional assessments of groundwater availability of the principal aquifers of the Nation. The goals of this national assessment are to document effects of human activities on water levels and groundwater storage, explore climate variability effects on the regional water budget, and provide consistent and integrated information that is useful to those who use and manage the groundwater resource. As part of this nationwide assessment, the USGS evaluated available groundwater resources within the NACP aquifer system from Long Island, New York, to northeastern North Carolina.

The northern Atlantic Coastal Plain physiographic province depends heavily on groundwater to meet agricultural, industrial, and municipal needs. The groundwater assessment of the NACP aquifer system included an evaluation of how water use has changed over time; this evaluation primarily used groundwater budgets and development of a numerical modeling tool to assess system responses to stresses from future human uses and climate trends.

This assessment focused on multiple spatial and temporal scales to examine changes in groundwater pumping, storage, and water levels. The regional scale provides a broad view of the sources and demands on the system with time. The sub-regional scale provides an evaluation of the differing response of the aquifer system across geographic areas allowing for closer examination of the interaction between different aquifers and confining units and the changes in these interactions under pumping and recharge conditions in 2013 and hydrologic stresses as much as 45 years in the future. By focusing on multiple scales, water-resource managers may utilize this study to understand system response to changes as they affect the system as a whole.

Science center capabilities to monitor and investigate Michigan’s water resources, 2016

Michigan faces many challenges related to water resources, including flooding, drought, water-quality degradation and impairment, varying water availability, watershed-management issues, stormwater management, aquatic-ecosystem impairment, and invasive species. Michigan’s water resources include approximately 36,000 miles of streams, over 11,000 inland lakes, 3,000 miles of shoreline along the Great Lakes (MDEQ, 2016), and groundwater aquifers throughout the State.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) works in cooperation with local, State, and other Federal agencies, as well as tribes and universities, to provide scientific information used to manage the water resources of Michigan. To effectively assess water resources, the USGS uses standardized methods to operate streamgages, water-quality stations, and groundwater stations. The USGS also monitors water quality in lakes and reservoirs, makes periodic measurements along rivers and streams, and maintains all monitoring data in a national, quality-assured, hydrologic database.

The USGS in Michigan investigates the occurrence, distribution, quantity, movement, and chemical and biological quality of surface water and groundwater statewide. Water-resource monitoring and scientific investigations are conducted statewide by USGS hydrologists, hydrologic technicians, biologists, and microbiologists who have expertise in data collection as well as various scientific specialties. A support staff consisting of computer-operations and administrative personnel provides the USGS the functionality to move science forward. Funding for USGS activities in Michigan comes from local and State agencies, other Federal agencies, direct Federal appropriations, and through the USGS Cooperative Matching Funds, which allows the USGS to partially match funding provided by local and State partners.

This fact sheet provides an overview of the USGS current (2016) capabilities to monitor and study Michigan’s vast water resources.

The role of snowpack, rainfall, and reservoirs in buffering California against drought effects

California’s vast reservoir system, fed by annual snow-and rainfall, plays an important part in providing water to the State’s human and wildlife population. There are almost 1,300 reservoirs throughout the State, but only approximately 200 of them are considered storage reservoirs, and many of the larger ones are critical components of the Federal Central Valley Project and California State Water Project. Storage reservoirs, such as the ones shown in figure 1, capture winter precipitation for use in California’s dry summer months. In addition to engineered reservoir storage, California also depends on water “stored” in the statewide snowpack, which slowly melts during the course of the summer, to augment the State’s water supply.

History of U.S. Geological Survey streamgaging on the Souris River in and near Minot, North Dakota, 1903 - 2016

The U.S. Geological Survey began collecting streamflow data, in cooperation with the North Dakota State Water Commission, on the Souris River in and near Minot, North Dakota, in April 1903. The gage was started up to better understand the water resources available in North Dakota. Currently (2016), water availability is still important as well as the flood monitoring and forecasting that has become an important component of this gage. Gage-height and streamflow data for the Souris River in and near Minot have been collected at five different streamgage locations during the years. This fact sheet describes the history of streamgaging (locations, gage-height data, and streamflow data) and flooding on the Souris River in and near Minot since 1903.

Streamflow of 2015 - Water year national summary

The maps and graphs in this summary describe national streamflow conditions for water year 2015 (October 1, 2014, to September 30, 2015) in the context of the 86-year period 1930–2015, unless otherwise noted. The illustrations are based on observed data from the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) National Streamflow Information Program. The period 1930–2015 was used because prior to 1930, the number of streamgages was too small to provide representative data for computing statistics for most regions of the country.

In the summary, reference is made to the term “runoff,” which is the depth to which a river basin, State, or other geographic area would be covered with water if all the streamflow within the area during a specified time period was uniformly distributed upon it. Runoff quantifies the magnitude of water flowing through the Nation's rivers and streams in measurement units that can be compared from one area to another.

Each of the maps and graphs can be expanded to a larger view by clicking on the image. In all of the graphics, a rank of 1 indicates the highest flow of all years analyzed. Rankings of streamflow are grouped into much-below normal, below normal, normal, above normal, and much-above normal, based on percentiles of flow (greater than 90 percent, 76–90 percent, 25–75 percent, 10–24 percent, and less than 10 percent, respectively). Some data used to produce maps and graphs are provisional and subject to change.

Sustainability of groundwater supplies in the Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain aquifer system

Groundwater is the Nation’s principal reserve of freshwater. It provides about half our drinking water, is essential to food production, and facilitates business and industry in developing economic well-being. Groundwater is also an important source of water for sustaining the ecosystem health of rivers, wetlands, and estuaries throughout the country. The decreases in groundwater levels and other effects of pumping that result from large-scale development of groundwater resources have led to concerns about the future availability of groundwater to meet all our Nation’s needs. Assessments of groundwater availability provide the science and information needed by the public and decision makers to manage water resources and use them responsibly.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is conducting large-scale multidisciplinary regional studies of groundwater availability as part of its ongoing assessments of the principal aquifers of the Nation. These regional studies are intended to provide citizens, communities, and natural resource managers with knowledge of the status of the Nation’s groundwater resources and how changes in land use, water use, and climate have affected and are likely to affect those resources now and in the future.


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