Estimated Groundwater Withdrawals from Principal Aquifers in the United States, 2015

Circular 1464
By: , and 

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Abstract

In 2015, about 84,600 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) of groundwater were withdrawn in the United States for various uses including public supply, self-supplied domestic, industrial, mining, thermoelectric power, aquaculture, livestock, and irrigation. Of this total, about 94 percent (79,200 Mgal/d) was withdrawn from principal aquifers, which are defined as regionally extensive aquifers or aquifer systems that have the potential to be used as sources of water of suitable quality and quantity to meet various needs. The remaining 6 percent (5,400 Mgal/d) was withdrawn from other, nonprincipal aquifers in the United States.

Sixty-six principal aquifers belonging to 5 major lithologic groups have been identified and delineated in the United States, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of the water withdrawn from principal aquifers in 2015, 81 percent (63,900 Mgal/d) was from the unconsolidated and semiconsolidated sand and gravel lithologic group, 7.1 percent (5,630 Mgal/d) was from the igneous and metamorphic-rock lithologic group, 6.8 percent (5,360 Mgal/d) was from the carbonate-rock lithologic group, 3.4 percent (2,680 Mgal/d) was from the sandstone lithologic group, and 2.2 percent (1,710 Mgal/d) was from the sandstone and carbonate-rock lithologic group.

The most heavily pumped of the 24 principal aquifers and aquifer systems within the unconsolidated and semiconsolidated sand and gravel lithologic group were the High Plains aquifer (12,300 Mgal/d), Mississippi River Valley alluvial aquifer (12,100 Mgal/d), Central Valley aquifer system (11,100 Mgal/d), and Basin and Range basin-fill aquifers (7,390 Mgal/d). Withdrawals for irrigation were 48,100 Mgal/d and accounted for 75 percent of the total withdrawals from this lithologic group. Although unconsolidated sand and gravel aquifers are widely distributed and were used as sources of water in all States except Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands, 56 percent of the total withdrawn from unconsolidated and semiconsolidated sand and gravel aquifers was in just four States: California (15,600 Mgal/d), Arkansas (9,560 Mgal/d), Nebraska (5,570 Mgal/d), and Texas (4,830 Mgal/d).

The most heavily pumped of the seven principal aquifers within the igneous and metamorphic-rock lithologic group were the Snake River Plain (2,930 Mgal/d) and Columbia Plateau basaltic-rock aquifers (1,080 Mgal/d), which are located in the northwestern United States and together accounted for 71 percent of the water withdrawn from this lithologic group. Withdrawals for irrigation were 4,190 Mgal/d and accounted for more than 74 percent of the total withdrawals from this lithologic group. Seventy-eight percent of the withdrawals from igneous and metamorphic-rock aquifers were in three States: Idaho (3,230 Mgal/d), Washington (614 Mgal/d), and Oregon (528 Mgal/d).

The most heavily pumped of the 15 principal aquifers and aquifer systems within the carbonate-rock lithologic group were the Floridan aquifer system (3,180 Mgal/d) and the Biscayne aquifer (679 Mgal/d), which are in the southeastern United States and together accounted for almost 72 percent of the withdrawals from this lithologic group. Withdrawals for public supply (2,440 Mgal/d) and irrigation (1,610 Mgal/d) together accounted for almost 76 percent of the total withdrawals from this lithologic group. Although water was withdrawn from carbonate-rock aquifers in 35 States, 71 percent of the total withdrawn was in Florida (3,020 Mgal/d) and Georgia (785 Mgal/d).

The most heavily pumped of the 15 principal aquifers within the sandstone lithologic group was the Cambrian-Ordovician aquifer system (921 Mgal/d), which is in the north-central United States and accounted for 34 percent of the water withdrawn from this lithologic group. Withdrawals for public supply were 1,030 Mgal/d and accounted for 38 percent of the total withdrawals from this lithologic group. Although sandstone aquifers were used as sources of water in 32 States, 45 percent of the total withdrawn from sandstone aquifers was in five States: Minnesota (321 Mgal/d), Wisconsin (319 Mgal/d), Kansas (193 Mgal/d), Illinois (187 Mgal/d), and Pennsylvania (179 Mgal/d).

The most heavily pumped of the five principal aquifers and aquifer systems within the sandstone and carbonate-rock lithologic group were the Edwards-Trinity aquifer system (661 Mgal/d) in the south-central United States and the Valley and Ridge aquifers (551 Mgal/d) of the eastern United States, which together accounted for 71 percent of total withdrawals from this lithologic group. Withdrawals from sandstone and carbonate-rock aquifers for public-supply (713 Mgal/d), irrigation (469 Mgal/d), and self-supplied domestic (253 Mgal/d) uses accounted for about 84 percent of the total withdrawals from this lithologic group. Although water was withdrawn from sandstone and carbonate-rock aquifers in 25 States, 65 percent of the total withdrawn was in Texas (651 Mgal/d), Pennsylvania (238 Mgal/d), and Florida (223 Mgal/d).

Suggested Citation

Lovelace, J.K., Nielsen, M.G., Read, A.L., Murphy, C.J., and Maupin, M.A., 2020, Estimated groundwater withdrawals from principal aquifers in the United States, 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1464, 70 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1464.

ISSN: 2330-5703 (online)

ISSN: 1067-084X (print)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Purpose and Scope
  • Water-Use Terminology
  • Sources of Data and Methods
  • Aquifer Terminology
  • Estimated Groundwater Withdrawals from Principal Aquifers
  • Withdrawals by Major Lithologic Group
  • Withdrawals by Category of Use
  • Estimated Withdrawals from Selected Principal Aquifers
  • References Cited
  • Glossary
  • Appendix 1. Summary of Sources of Information and Methods Used to Estimate Water Withdrawals from Principal Aquifers for Each Category of Use in Each State

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Estimated groundwater withdrawals from principal aquifers in the United States, 2015
Series title Circular
Series number 1464
DOI 10.3133/cir1464
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center
Description Report: vii, 70 p.; Data Release
Country United State
Online Only (Y/N) N
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