Withdrawal and Consumption of Water by Thermoelectric Power Plants in the United States, 2015

Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5103
U.S. Geological Survey Water Availability and Use Science Program
By:  and 



The U.S. Geological Survey has developed models to estimate thermoelectric water use based on linked heat and water budgets. The models produced plant-level withdrawal and consumption estimates using consistent methods for 1,122 water-using, utility-scale thermoelectric power plants in the United States for 2015. Total estimated withdrawal for 2015 was about 103 billion gallons per day (Bgal/d), and total estimated consumption was about 2.7 Bgal/d. Model-estimated withdrawals decreased approximately 26 Bgal/d, or 20 percent, since 2010, and consumption decreased approximately 734 million gallons per day, or 21 percent. The decrease in thermoelectric water use between 2010 and 2015 can be attributed in part to a 7-percent decrease in total thermoelectric utility-scale electricity production, a combination of decreased electricity production and closure of coal-fired plants with once-through cooling systems, and the increase of electricity production at natural gas combined-cycle plants, which are more energy- and water-efficient than conventional thermoelectric plants.

Suggested Citation

Harris, M.A., and Diehl, T.H., 2019, Withdrawal and consumption of water by thermoelectric power plants in the United States, 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2019–5103, 15 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20195103.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

ISSN: 2328-031X (print)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Purpose and Scope
  • Methods
  • Results and Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • References
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Withdrawal and consumption of water by thermoelectric power plants in the United States, 2015
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2019-5103
DOI 10.3133/sir20195103
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Tennessee Water Science Center, Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center
Description Report: iv, 15 p.; Data Release
Country United States
Online Only (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details