Water Use in the United States
Changes in Water-Use Categories
Water-use terminology has changed in the series of USGS water-use Circulars prepared at 5-year intervals. The category changes over time are illustrated here. In some changes categories were re-named but retained essentially the same definition, while other changes split existing categories or shifted components of one category to another. See the linked definitions of the categories for other details.
*Rural estimates for 1950 and 1955 were allocated to Rural Domestic and Livestock in later reports.
The focus of most of these Circulars are water withdrawals from surface-water and groundwater sources. From 1960 to 1995 consumptive use was also estimated. Consumptive use for Irrigation and Thermoelectric Power was estimated for 2015. Ancillary data such as population served by public supply, power generated, and irrigated acres has also been included in many of the reports.