Domestic water-use and related socioeconomic and climatic data for 2005-10 were used in an analysis of 21 selected U.S. cities to describe recent domestic per capita water use, investigate variables that potentially affect domestic water use, and provide guidance for estimating domestic water use. Domestic water use may be affected by a combination of several factors. Domestic per capita water use for the selected cities ranged from a median annual average of 43 to 177 gallons per capita per day (gpcd). In terms of year-to-year variability in domestic per capita water use for the selected cities, the difference from the median ranged from ± 7 to ± 26 percent with an overall median variability of ± 14 percent. As a percentage of total annual water use, median annual domestic water use for the selected cities ranged from 33 to 71 percent with an overall median of 57 percent. Monthly production and water sales data were used to calculate daily per capita water use rates for the lowest 3 consecutive months (low-3) and the highest 3 consecutive months (high-3) of usage. Median low-3 domestic per capita water use for 16 selected cities ranged from 40 to 100 gpcd. Median high-3 domestic per capita water use for 16 selected cities ranged from 53 to 316 gpcd. In general, the median domestic water use as a percentage of the median total water use for 16 selected cities was similar for the low-3 and high-3 periods. Statistical analyses of combined data for the selected cities indicated that none of the socioeconomic variables, including cost of water, were potentially useful as determinants of domestic water use at the national level. However, specific socioeconomic variables may be useful for the estimation of domestic water use at the State or local level. Different socioeconomic variables may be useful in different States. Statistical analyses indicated that specific climatic variables may be useful for the estimation of domestic water use for some, but not all, of the selected cities. National average public supply per capita water use declined from 185 gpcd in 1990 to 171 gpcd in 2005. National average domestic delivery per capita water use declined from 105 gpcd in 1990 to 99 gpcd in 2005. Average State domestic delivery per capita water use ranged from 51 to 189 gpcd in 2005. The average annual total per capita water use in 19 selected cities that provided data for each year declined from 167 gpcd in 2006 to 145 gpcd in 2010. During this time period, average per capita water use measured during the low-3 period each year declined from 115 to 102 gpcd, and average per capita use measured during the high-3 period declined from 250 to 211 gpcd. Continued collection of data on water deliveries to domestic populations, as well as updated estimates of the population served by these deliveries, is recommended for determination of regional and temporal trends in domestic per capita water use. Declines in various measures of per capita water use have been observed in recent years for several States with municipal water use data-collection programs. Domestic self-supplied water use historically has not been metered. Estimates of self-supplied domestic water use are made using estimates of the population that is not served by public water suppliers and per capita coefficients. For 2005, the average State domestic self-supplied per capita use in the United States ranged from 50 to 206 gpcd. The median domestic self-supplied per capita use was 76 gpcd for States in which standard coefficients were used, and 98 gpcd for States in which coefficients were based on domestic deliveries from public supply. In specific areas with scarce resources or increasing numbers of households with private wells, an assessment of domestic water use may require metering of households or development of more specific per capita coefficients to estimate water demand.
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USGS Numbered Series
Description of 2005-10 domestic water use for selected U.S. cities and guidance for estimating domestic water use