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Efficient irrigation helps water supply

During a keynote address given Oct. 29 at the National Press Club, Anne Castle announced that a U.S. Geological Survey report, Summary of Estimated Water Use in the United States in 2005, states that Americans used 410 billion gallons of water per day; slightly less than what was consumed in 2000. The decline was specifically attributed to the increased use of more efficient irrigation systems and alternative technologies at power plants.

"Because electricity generation and irrigation together accounted for a massive 80 percent of our water use in 2005, the improvements in efficiency and technology gives us hope for the future," said Castle.
The report states that in 2005, the majority of irrigation withdrawals and irrigated acres were in the Western states, but significant increases in irrigation have occurred in some Southeastern states. The report continues to state that even though the amount of irrigated acres throughout the United States has increased, irrigation application rates have decreased steadily from 1950 to 2005; a change that is directly attributed to the increased use of more efficient irrigation systems. Overall, the report concluded that irrigation withdrawals accounted for 31 percent of total withdrawals and 37 percent of freshwater withdrawals.

 "We are pleased to see that irrigation efficiency played such a major role in decreasing our nation's overall water use, despite a 30 percent population increase during the past 25 years," said IA Federal Affairs Director John Farner. "As our nation's population increases, the demand for food will increase, as will the amount of Americans owning homes. We will need to do more with less in the future than we've ever had before. We are excited to continue to be part of the solution."

Since 1950, the USGS has compiled water use information by state in cooperation with state, local, and other federal agencies and organizations. The information included in the report reflects withdrawals from the nation's rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries and aquifers for major uses.
The full report is available at

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