Science

Where Does Our Drinking Water Come From In The United States?

Clean drinking water is one of our most precious resources and it turns out we are using a lot of it.  More than 355 billion gallons of water is consumed in the United State alone and that number continues to rise and the population continues to grow.  The more people there are on this planet, the more mouths we have to feed.

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Drinking Water

I’m some parts of the developed world, we take water for granted in that every time we turn on the faucet, we have clean drinking water easily accessible. However, many countries are facing widespread droughts, like in South Africa, which will have its taps turned off until April of 2018.

To better understand exactly where our drinking water comes from, Clarke has developed an interactive map that shows a state by state breakdown of water sources in the United States. The cool interactive map highlights both where our surface water comes from and where our groundwater comes from. They also developed a cool chart that shows how much water we consume per day and what percentage of water consumption goes to which source.

Water is sourced either via surface water or ground water.  Surface water comes from sources like rivers, lakes, streams and reservoirs.  Where groundwater is just as it sounds as all water below the surface. In the United States 217 billion gallons of surface water is consumed daily.  Groundwater which comes from on average 200 feet below the surface, is consumed at roughly 135 billion gallons daily.  That breaks down to 61% surface water and 39% groundwater.

Surface watersheds are the main supply of water in the United States which is mainly used for drinking water, agriculture and manufacturing. There are 18 main watersheds in the United States that supply a bulk of the surface water sources.  If you click on the interactive map from Clarke, you can see the watershed that services your area.

When it comes to groundwater, a bulk of our groundwater sources is located beneath the soil and in rocks underground and underground aquifers. Groundwater is used for the same purposes in the United States as surface water (drinking water, agriculture, and for manufacturing).

How much water do we consume per day?

45%- Thermoelectric power

33%- Irrigation

12%- Public supply

4%- Industrial

3% Aquaculture (fish farm)

1% Mining

1% Livestock

1% Domestic consumption

To see the full analysis on where our where our water comes from, check out the resource from Clarke.