America uses 322 billion gallons of water each day. Here’s where it goes.

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From cooling power plants to quenching thirst and growing crops, water is part of everything we do.

February 22, 2019 — As climate change, urban development, irrigation and other factors are altering the availability of water, it’s important to understand how we use water on a daily basis in the U.S. — and where the opportunities are for using it more wisely.

A recent report from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provides an overview of water withdrawals across the country.

The report includes a few surprises. For example, did you know Idaho withdraws the most water nationwide for aquaculture? That Arkansas — the 33rd most-populous state — withdraws the fifth most water, mainly for crop irrigation? Or that power plants are the largest users of water in the country?

The following maps and data visualizations paint a picture of how and where America uses its water.

322 Billion Gallons per Day

According to the USGS, freshwater and saline water (seawater and brackish coastal water) withdrawals in the in the U.S. in 2015 totaled approximately 322 billion gallons (1.22 trillion liters) per day — 9 percent less than in 2010. This decline occurred even as the U.S. population increased 4 percent. As the map below shows, thermoelectric power generation and irrigation were the dominant uses of this water.

Graph: Dow does America use its water?

1,163 Empire State Buildings

The U.S. used 322 billion gallons of water per day in 2015. That’s a really big number. But how big is it?

Graph: how much water is that?

On a typical day in the U.S. we withdraw enough water to fill 1,163 […]

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America uses 322 billion gallons of water each day. Here’s where it goes.
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America uses 322 billion gallons of water each day. Here’s where it goes.
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As climate change, urban development, irrigation and other factors are altering the availability of water, it’s important to understand how we use water on a daily basis in the U.S. — and where the opportunities are for using it more wisely.
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ensia
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