New Report Delivers Good News on Water Usage

Americans used 408 billion gallons of water a day in 2000, a number virtually unchanged since 1985 and lower (down 25 percent per capita) than in 1975, says a report released yesterday by the U.S. Geological Survey. “Conservation,” the report says, “is working.” Though the public tends to be preoccupied with private water usage, homes and businesses account for only 11 percent of the total. Electricity generation accounts for 48 percent and irrigation 34 percent — technological advances in those areas have allowed total water use to stay steady despite increases in population and electricity use. Agricultural acreage has more than doubled since 1950, but the percentage of the nation’s water use it accounts for remained stable through 2000. Enviros hailed the report, hoping it would result in lower demand for large, power-intensive water projects, but encouraged the public not to take the bricks out of their toilets just yet.