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Water use in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, 2010, and water-use trends, 1985-2010

Scientific Investigations Report 2016-5007

Prepared in cooperation with the National Water Census Program
By:
https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20165007

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Abstract

The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin encompasses about 20,230 square miles in parts of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. Increasing population growth and agricultural production from the 1970s to 2010 has prompted increases in water-resources development and substantially increased water demand in the basin. Since the 1980s, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are parties to litigation concerning water management in the ACF River Basin.

Estimating the 2010 water use in the ACF River Basin is one aspect of a multipart water resources study on the ACF River Basin that began in 2011. This ACF River Basin study is one focus area of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Census program. The 2010 water-use estimates for the ACF River Basin are presented in this report. These estimates include an inventory of the quantity and sources of water withdrawn by category of use and location (State and river basin), and the surface-water returns in the ACF River Basin during 2010. Water-use trends from 1985 to 2010 in the basin also are presented. Offstream water-withdrawal data in the ACF River Basin are presented for each of the following categories: public supply, self-supplied domestic, self-supplied commercial, industrial, mining, agricultural (including crop irrigation, livestock, and aquaculture uses), and thermoelectric-power generation. Water-use data are compiled for the 14 subbasins in the ACF River Basin. For the counties in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia that are partially within the ACF River Basin, data are presented for only that part of the county that lies within the basin. A variety of Federal, State, local, private, and online sources in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia were used to gather surface-water and groundwater withdrawal, surface-water discharges (return flows), and water-use data for the ACF River Basin in 2010.

The population in the ACF River Basin was 3.835 million in 2010, a 45-percent increase from the 1990 population of nearly 2.636 million. About 92 percent of the 2010 ACF population resided in Georgia with nearly 75 percent living in the Atlanta metropolitan area. In 2010, 1,645 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) of water were withdrawn from groundwater (576 Mgal/d) and surface-water (1,069 Mgal/d) sources in the ACF River Basin. About 89 percent of the groundwater and 83 percent of the surface-water withdrawals were from Georgia. About 5.6 percent of the total groundwater and nearly 4 percent of the total surface-water withdrawals in the ACF River Basin were from Florida, whereas about 5.3 percent of groundwater and nearly 16 percent of surface water were withdrawn in Alabama. Total water use (withdrawals plus public-supplied deliveries) in the ACF River Basin was 1,593 Mgal/d in 2010. About 56 Mgal/d of water withdrawn in the ACF River Basin was delivered (interbasin transfer) to basins beyond the ACF River Basin. About 564 Mgal/d of water was returned to surface-water bodies in the ACF River Basin. Most of that amount, 63 percent, was treated wastewater discharged by public wastewater-treatment facilities. Water used for once-through cooling by thermoelectric-power facilities accounted for nearly 24 percent of the surface-water returns in the basin.

About 70 percent of all water withdrawals in the ACF River Basin were by self-supplied agricultural water users and public water suppliers. Agricultural withdrawals were greatest in the Flint River Basin (501 Mgal/d) with ground-water representing 84 percent of the withdrawals from that basin. Within the Flint River Basin, agricultural withdrawals were greatest in the Lower Flint River and Spring Creek subbasins. About 3.52 million people were served by public water suppliers in the ACF River Basin during 2010, and 88 percent of that population used surface water. Georgia had the largest public-supplied population, representing nearly 93 percent (3.17 million) of the public-supplied population in the ACF River Basin. Public water suppliers served 193,700 people (5.7 percent) in Alabama and 31,880 people in Florida (1.3 percent). Public-supply losses were estimated at 101 Mgal/d.

Withdrawals for public supply (483 Mgal/d) and self-supplied industry (141 Mgal/d) were greatest in the Chattahoochee River Basin. Surface water accounted for 96 percent of all withdrawals in the Chattahoochee River Basin. Withdrawals for public supply were greatest in the Upper Chattahoochee River subbasin (366 Mgal/d), whereas self-supplied industrial withdrawals were greatest in the Lower Chattahoochee River subbasin (110 Mgal/d).

Water-use trends in the ACF River Basin have varied during the 25 years between 1985 and 2010. Surface-water withdrawals declined between 1985 and 2000, sharply increased in 2000, and declined again between 2000 and 2010. In contrast, groundwater withdrawals increased between 1985 and 2000, declined in 2005, and increased between 2005 and 2010.

Suggested Citation

Lawrence, S.J., 2016, Water use in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, 2010, and water-use trends,
1985–2010: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5007, 72 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20165007.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Water Withdrawal and Water-Use Data Sources and Estimation Methods
  • Hydrologic Unit Codes and Water-Use Reporting Units
  • Study Area Description 
  • Climate in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, 2010
  • Water Use in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin
  • Water-Use Trends in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, 1985–2010
  • Summary
  • References Cited
  • Glossary
  • Appendix 1. Water Withdrawals, Surface-Water Returns, and Interbasin Transfers  Using the U.S. Geological Survey National Hydrologic Dataset and a Geographic Information System—A Pilot Study
  • Appendix 2. North American Industrial Classification Codes
  • Appendix 3. Population, Water Withdrawals, and Water Use by Source of Water for Each Subbasin in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, 2010

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Water use in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, 2010, and water-use trends, 1985-2010
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
2016-5007
DOI:
10.3133/sir20165007
Year Published:
2016
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
South Atlantic Water Science Center
Description:
viii, 72 p.
Country:
United States
State:
Alabama, Florida, Georgia
Other Geospatial:
Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin
Online Only (Y/N):
Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N