Estimating domestic well locations and populations served in the contiguous U.S. for years 2000 and 2010

Science of the Total Environment
By: , and 



Domestic wells provide drinking water supply for approximately 40 million people in the United States. Knowing the location of these wells, and the populations they serve, is important for identifying heavily used aquifers, locations susceptible to contamination, and populations potentially impacted by poor-quality groundwater. The 1990 census was the last nationally consistent survey of a home’s source of water, and has not been surveyed since. This paper presents a method for projecting the population dependent on domestic wells for years after 1990, using information from the 1990 census along with population data from subsequent censuses. The method is based on the “domestic ratio” at the census block-group level, defined here as the number of households dependent on domestic wells divided by the total population. Analysis of 1990 data (>220,000 block-groups) indicates that the domestic ratio is a function of the household density. As household density increases, the domestic ratio decreases, once a household density threshold is met. The 1990 data were used to develop a relationship between household density and the domestic ratio. The fitted model, along with household density data from 2000 and 2010, was used to estimate domestic ratios for each decadal year. In turn, the number of households dependent on domestic wells was estimated at the block-group level for 2000 and 2010. High-resolution census-block population data were used to refine the spatial distribution of domestic-well usage and to convert the data into population numbers. The results are presented in two downloadable raster datasets for each decadal year. It is estimated that the total population using domestic-well water in the contiguous U.S. increased 1.5% from 1990 to 2000 to a total of 37.25 million people and increased slightly from 2000 to 2010 to 37.29 million people.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Estimating domestic well locations and populations served in the contiguous U.S. for years 2000 and 2010
Series title Science of the Total Environment
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.06.036
Volume 687
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center, New England Water Science Center, WMA - Earth System Processes Division, National Water Quality Program, Massachusetts Water Science Center, National Water Quality Assessment Program
Description 13 p.
First page 1261
Last page 1273
Country United States