Communities: Water – Crucial for Healthy Communities and Ecosystems

The nation's coastal communities share the need for freshwater with the rivers and estuaries that are found throughout the community landscape. These communities rely upon freshwater for many uses, including drinking water, industry, irrigation, and power generation. Coastal rivers and estuaries depend on continuous inputs of clean freshwater, a fundamental resource necessary to sustain healthy coastal habitats and economically important fish and shellfish. As our nation's coastal population increases and a changing climate potentially alters rainfall and drought patterns in coastal watersheds, we must carefully balance competing demands for a limited supply of freshwater.


Percent of the total water used in Coastal Watershed Counties that is freshwater (compared to 99% for noncoastal counties).

Source:USGS, 2009


Percent of the total fresh water used in Coastal Watershed Counties that is from surface water (compared to 75% for noncoastal counties).

Source: USGS, 2009

156 gallons

Daily per capita water use among water suppliers in Coastal Watershed Counties (compared to 191 gal for noncoastal counties).

Source: USGS, 2009


Percent of the saltwater used in Coastal Watershed Counties that is for thermoelectric power generation.

Source: USGS, 2009

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Download Water Use Interactive Map and Data (1.2mb)

Source: U.S. Geological Survey: Water Use in the United States, 2009
Note: Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are not included in this dataset.

About this Topic

This data set, provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, provides data on water uses and water sources during the period from 1985 to 2005 in the combined Coastal Watershed County area of each state. Water uses are broken down by sector: thermoelectric, public supply, irrigation, industrial, mining, domestic, livestock, and aquaculture. In 2005, the largest user of water along the coasts was the thermoelectric power industry, accounting for 67 percent (105,615 million gallons/day) of all water used. Public supply and irrigation were the next two largest users at 14 and 8.5 percent, respectively. Sources of water were fresh surface water (51%), fresh ground water (11%), saline surface water (37%), saline ground water (1%). There are two Case Studies presented for this topic; Saltwater Intrusion Puts Drinking Water at Risk and Texas Bays and Estuaries: A Freshwater Destination.

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Relevant Links

U.S. Geological Survey Water Use in the United States