chapter  1
16 Pages


Consumptive use of water for municipal purposes is less than 10 percent of total water consumption in the United States, although it is often perceived as the most vital or important water use. From region to region the share of consumptive water use by municipalities varies widely, from less than 1 percent in rural states having irrigated agriculture (such as Idaho or Nebraska) to more than 50 percent in such urbanized states as New Jersey (53 percent) or New York (64 percent). In absolute numbers, the quantity of water consumed is greatest in the most populous states and in states where the climate is quite arid or hot. In 1980 the most municipal water was consumed in California (1,700 million gallons per day), New York (380 mgd), Arizona (340 mgd), and Florida (330 mgd). Consumptive water use is generally about 25 percent of withdrawals for municipal use. 1

Municipal water demand encompasses a number of distinctly different kinds of water use. For descriptive purposes these can be categorized as residential, public, and "other" uses. Residential (household) water use is both for indoor purposes such as bathing, drinking, or cooking, and for outdoor purposes such as watering lawns, washing cars, or filling swimming pools. Figure 1-1 shows the breakdown of per capita residential use into its constituent parts. Public water use includes firefighting and maintenance of public buildings and grounds. Also supplied in part by public water utilities, and thus included in some municipal water use data, are commercial and industrial uses in stores, restaurants, small business establishments, and some factories. Some statistical analyses of the municipal water use sector include total municipal demand, while other analyses focus solely on residential water demand. In most

localities, household use comprises the largest fraction of municipal water use.