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Volume of Water Consumed by the US

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Standardized
Result
Estimated Use of Water in The United States in 1995 [pdf]. USGS, 7 January 2003. "Total freshwater consumptive use was about 100,000 Mgal/d during 1995, or 6 percent more than during 1990." 3.8 × 1011 L/day
No. 388, Water Withdrawal and Consumptive Use--State and Other Area: 1995 [pdf]. US Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: Geography and Environment, 2000. "In millions of gallons per day (401,500 represents 401,500,000,000) except as noted Consumptive use, freshwater: 100,000" 3.8 × 1011 L/day
No. 387, US Water Withdrawals and Consumptive Use Per Day by End Use: 1940 to 1995 [pdf]. US Census Bureaus, Statistical Abstract of the United States: Geography and Environment, 2000. No. 387, US Water Withdrawals and Consumptive Use Per Day by End Use: 1940 to 1995Total (bil.gal.)
1960 61
196577
197087
197596
1980100
198592
199094
1995100
3.8 × 1011 L/day
"How We Use Water in These United States"US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 18 March 2003. Total Freshwater and Saltwater Withdrawals vs. Water UseSurface--327.00 Billion Gal; Ground-- 80.6 Billion Gal Total Use-- 94 Billion Gal 3.6 × 1011 L/day

When calculating the total amount of water consumed by the United States, we must first define and separate water withdrawal from water consumption. Withdrawal refers to water extracted from surface or ground water sources, with consumption being that part of a withdrawal that is ultimately used and removed from the immediate water environment. The majority of water consumption comes from domestic use. It is surprising to hear that each person in the United States uses approximately 380 liters of water each day (100 gal).

Most people drink under 4 liters of water a day, so how can it be that we each use 380? We must take into consideration the water used for bathing, washing dishes, brushing our teeth, flushing the toilet, etc. This chart shows the amount of water used for some of the most common domestic activities.

Toilet flush 18-27 liters
Shower 95-190 liters
Handwashing 8 liters with running tap
Toothbrushing 8 liters with running tap
Outdoor Watering 19-38 liters per minute
Automatic Dishwasher 38 liters
Dishwashing by Hand 76 liters
Tub Bath 137 liters
Source: Think Smart, save Your Water [pdf], City of The Colony Texas.

One interesting fact: When signing NAFTA, Canada gave the US the rights to purchase all of their water. Coincidentally, Canada holds one fifth of the world's freshwater.

Ross Bernstein -- 2003