New York Water-Use Program and data, 2000

Open-File Report 2005-1352




The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been publishing estimates of water use every five years since 1950 in the Estimated use of water in the United States circular series. In 1978, the Congress expanded the water-use activities of the USGS by establishing the National Water-Use Information Program (NWUIP). The water-use program in New York is part of the NWUIP and is based on a cooperative agreement between the USGS and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). Together, the NYSDEC and USGS collect, compile, and store water-use data to provide a data base that is useful for water-resources management. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) collects a wide variety of data elements relating to public-water supplies such as the name and location of the suppliers and the amount of water withdrawn. This valuable information is provided to the water-use program.

The information summarized in this fact sheet has been published in U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1268, Estimated use of water in the United States in 2000 which can be accessed at The 2000 data (by county) as well as previous years data can also be found at that site.

Water withdrawal refers to the removal of water from the ground or its diversion from a surface-water source for use. Withdrawals of fresh and saline surface water and fresh ground water during 2000 were included in this study. The categories considered in this data compilation are public-water supply; deliveries to domestic from public-water suppliers and domestic self-supplied; industrial; thermoelectric-power generation; and irrigation. Saline withdrawals were included for the categories of industrial, mining, and thermoelectric-power generation. Saline water is a significant percentage of total withdrawals for the category of thermoelectric-power generation.

The categories of withdrawal for which data were compiled for the 2000 calendar year do not include some of the categories that were addressed in 1995 and published in USGS Circular 1200, Estimated use of water in the United States in 1995. For the 2000 compilation, emphasis was placed on ensuring the quality of data that were collected, rather than attempting to address all categories and data elements on a national scale. Categories that were included in 1995 but not in 2000 are commercial; livestock; mining; the non-withdrawal categories of hydroelectric-power generation, wastewater treatment and public-water supply deliveries to commercial and industrial users. Any comparison made between 1995 and 2000 data need to be made with these category differences in mind. In 1995, the categories of commercial, livestock, and mining were about 280 Mgal/d (million gallons per day) of freshwater and 2.7 percent of total freshwater withdrawals. In addition, the report, New York water-use program and data, 1995, U. S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 014-02, concentrated on freshwater and did not include saline-surface water withdrawals in the figures. Any comparison between the 1995 and 2000 figures need to be made with this in mind.

In 2000, about 12,100 Mgal/d (million gallons per day) of fresh surface and ground water and saline surface water were withdrawn from New York's rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries, bays, and aquifers for the categories addressed. Freshwater withdrawals comprised about 7,080 Mgal/d of this total. With a total population of 18,980,000 people in New York State, the total freshwater withdrawals represent an average of more than 370 gal/d (gallons per day) per capita. The amounts of fresh surface water, ground water, saline surface water, and total amounts of water withdrawn by categories of water use in New York during 2000 are shown.

Many of New York's large population centers have developed along major rivers and lakes; as a result, more than 87 percent of the freshwater withdrawals in 2000 were from surface-water bodies (6,190 Mgal/d). More than 65 percent of fresh surface-water withdrawals were for thermoelectric-power generation, and about 32 percent were by public-water suppliers. Of the 890 Mgal/d of ground water withdrawn in 2000 statewide, 65 percent was withdrawn by public-water suppliers, and about 16 percent each by industrial and domestic users.

More freshwater is withdrawn by thermoelectric plants than for any other water-use category. Of the freshwater withdrawals within New York, about 57 percent were made by fossil-fuel and nuclear powerplants; about 36 percent were for public-water supply; about 4.2 percent was by industrial users, 2.0 percent by domestic users, and about 0.5 percent was for irrigation.

Total withdrawals, total surface-water and fresh ground-water withdrawals, in New York are plotted, by county. The categories of public-water supply and thermoelectric power account for the withdrawals that exceed 100 Mgal/d per county. The counties that have public-water supply withdrawals that exceed 100 Mgal/d are: Delaware (453 Mgal/d), Ulster, Nassau, Erie, Sullivan, Westchester, Suffolk, Putnam, and Schoharie (115 Mgal/d). These large withdrawals are from surface water except in Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island, where groundwater is the sole source of freshwater. Delaware, Putnam, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester Counties, in the southeastern part of the State, provide surface water to the aqueducts that supply drinking water to New York City. In 2000, the average amount of water delivered to New York City from these counties averaged 1,260 Mgal/d. Erie County, in western New York, had withdrawals totaling 176 Mgal/d of fresh surface water for public-water supply.

More freshwater and more total water is withdrawn for the generation of thermoelectric power than for any other water-use category. All of the withdrawals are of surface water. Seven counties have total thermoelectric withdrawals that exceed 500 Mgal/d: Queens (1,690 Mgal/d), Westchester, Oswego, Suffolk, Erie, Orange, and Rockland (560 Mgal/d). The counties of Oswego, Erie, and Orange withdrew only fresh surface water for thermoelectric plants. Their sources of water were Lake Ontario (Oswego County), Niagara River (Erie County), and the Hudson River (Orange County). Queens, Westchester, Suffolk, and Rockland withdraw only saline surface water for the production of thermoelectric power. The sources of saline surface water for the thermoelectric plants in the counties of Queens, Westchester, Suffolk, and Rockland are the estuaries of the Hudson River and East River and bays of the Atlantic Ocean (Long Island Sound and the eastern shore of Jamaica Bay).

New York ranked eighth in the United States in 2000 in total withdrawals (fresh and saline water); the States that exceeded New York in total withdrawals are those that have large populations (such as California and Texas) and (or) use large quantities of water for irrigation (such as Florida and Idaho). Of the categories considered for the 2000 compilation, New York did not have nationally significant withdrawals for either irrigation or industrial water use.

New York ranked third after California and Texas in withdrawals of freshwater for public supply, in the withdrawal of fresh surface water for public-water supply, in total population, and in number of people served by public-water supplies. New York ranked sixth in total withdrawals for the generation of thermoelectric power and total surface-water withdrawals. Finally, New York ranked fourth in withdrawals of ground water for public supply.

Suggested Citation

Lumia, D.S., and Linsey, K.S., 2005, New York Water-Use Program and Data, 2000: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2005–1352, 8 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Water-Use Program in New York
  • Water-Resources Management in New York
  • Water Use In New York, 2000
  • 2000 Withdrawals by Water-Use Category
  • New York Water Use in Perspective 

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
New York Water-Use Program and data, 2000
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
New York Water Science Center
8 p.
Online Only (Y/N):
Additional Online Files (Y/N):