The USGS Water Science School
Water Science water-use pages
Categories of Use:
National Water Use Program
Information and Data
Surface Water Use in the United States
The Nation's surface-water resources—the water in the nation's rivers, streams, creeks, lakes, and reservoirs—are vitally important to our everyday life. The main uses of surface water include drinking-water and other public uses, irrigation uses, and for use by the thermoelectric-power industry to cool electricity-generating equipment. The majority of water used for thermoelectric power, public supply, irrigation, mining, and industrial purposes came from surface-water sources. Of all the water used in the United States in 2015, almost 80 percent came from surface-water sources. Water from groundwater sources accounted for the remaining withdrawals. Over 80 percent of all water used in 2015 was freshwater, although saline water was heavily used in the thermoelectric-power industry, and, to a lesser extent, for industrial and mining purposes.
Surface-water withdrawals and use for the Nation, 2015