U.S. Geological Survey

Cover image from FS-014-02 (click for enlargement, 71 KB) New York Water-Use Program and Data, 1995

by Deborah S. Lumia and Kristin S. Linsey

Fact Sheet FS-014-02


The water-use program in New York is part of the National Water-Use Information Program and is based on a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). Together, the NYSDEC and USGS collect, compile, and store water-use data to provide a data base that is useful for water-resources management. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) also collects a variety of data elements relating to public-water supplies and provides this information to the water-use program.  

Water withdrawal refers to the removal of water from the ground or its diversion from a surface-water source for use. In 1995, about 10,230 Mgal/d (million gallons per day) of freshwater was withdrawn from New York's rivers, streams, lakes, and aquifers for all uses combined; this withdrawal represents an average of more than 560 gal/d (gallons per day) for each resident of the State.  

More freshwater is withdrawn by thermoelectric plants than for any other water-use category. Of the freshwater withdrawals within New York, about 64 percent were made by fossil-fuel and nuclear power plants; about 32 percent were for public-water supply, domestic, and commercial categories; and about 3 percent were for agricultural, irrigation, and industrial use.  

Many of New York's large population centers have developed along major rivers and lakes; as a result, more than 90 percent of the withdrawals in 1995 were from surface-water bodies (9,230 Mgal/d). More than 70 percent of surface-water withdrawals were for thermoelectric-power generation, and about 27 percent were by public-water suppliers. Of the 1,000 Mgal/d of ground water withdrawn in 1995 statewide, 55 percent was withdrawn by public-water suppliers, and 28 percent was withdrawn for domestic and commercial uses.  

Total withdrawals, and total surface-water and ground-water withdrawals, in New York are plotted by county. The categories of public-water supply and thermoelectric power account for the largest withdrawals (greater than 100 Mgal/d in an individual county). These withdrawals consist entirely or mostly of surface water except in Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island, where ground water is the sole source of freshwater. Delaware, Putnam, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester Counties, in the southeastern part of the State, provide surface water to the aqueducts that supply drinking water to New York City. In 1995, the average amount of water delivered to New York City from these counties exceeded 1,300 Mgal/d. Other counties with large withdrawals in 1995 were Onondaga County, south of Lake Ontario, where public-supply withdrawals exceeded 140 Mgal/d, mostly from surface-water bodies, and Monroe and Erie Counties, in western New York, which had large surface-water withdrawals for public supply (123 Mgal/d in Monroe County and 214 Mgal/d in Erie County) and for thermoelectric plants (177 Mgal/d in Monroe County and 835 Mgal/d in Erie County). All of the remaining eight counties with total withdrawals exceeding 100 Mgal/d had large withdrawals for thermoelectric-power generation. The only counties in which ground-water withdrawals exceeded 100 Mgal/d were Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island; these withdrawals were for public supply.  

New York ranked ninth in the United States in 1995 in total withdrawals; the States that exceeded New York in total withdrawals were those that are large (such as California) and (or) that use large quantities of water for irrigation (such as Colorado). In 1995, New York ranked third in total population after California and Texas, but 40th in per-capita withdrawal rates (about 560 gal/d per person). New York's relatively small per-capita withdrawals, compared to those of other States, are the result of the large total population and the low rates of withdrawal for irrigation.  

New York also ranked third in total withdrawals for public supply after California and Texas, and sixth in fresh-water withdrawals for the generation of thermoelectric power. New York ranked ninth in total surface-water withdrawals, but was second only to California in surface-water withdrawals for public-water supply. New York ranked 16th in total ground-water withdrawals and 5th in withdrawals of ground water for public supply. 

Citation: Lumia, D.S., and Linsey, K.S., 2002, New York Water-Use Program and Data, 1995: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-014-02, 6 p., 4 figs.

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