Water Usage

Overview

Water UsageA public water system provides water for human consumption through pipes or other constructed conveyances to at least 15 service connections or serves an average of at least 25 people for at least 60 days a year.  A public water system may be publicly or privately owned.

There are over 148,000 public water systems in the United States. EPA classifies these water systems according to the number of people they serve, the source of their water, and whether they serve the same customers year-round or on an occasional basis. 

About 10 percent of people in the United States rely on water from private wells. Private wells are not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).  People who use private wells need to take precautions to ensure their drinking water is safe

Public water systems depend on distribution systems to provide an uninterrupted supply of pressurized safe drinking water to all consumers. Distribution system mains carry water from either:

  • the treatment plant to the consumer; or
  • the source to the consumer when treatment is absent.

Distribution systems span almost one million miles in the United States. They represent the vast majority of physical infrastructure for water supplies.

Additional Resources

News

IN OUR OPINION Stormwater - A Beneficial Resource or a Contaminant: Infiltrate With Caution

Stormwater is a valuable resource that, with proper infiltration, can provide new groundwater resour...

Online Program: Empowering Youth for Water Security

The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs...

Events

02/09/2021 – 08/31/2021

Aquifer Storage & Recovery / Managed Aquifer Recharge Webinar:
What's New With the EPA - Reuse, UIC, Stormwater

Publications

06/2019

Produced Water Report: Regulations, Current Practices & Needs

The GWPC released a 'Produced Water Report' on June 24, 2019, that examines current regulations, practices, and research needed to expand the use of produced water, a byproduct of oil and gas production, as a resource.

Led by its member states, the GWPC brought together a collaboration of scientists, regulatory officials, members of academia, the oil and gas industry, and environmental groups to explore roles produced water might play in developing greater water certainty. The report consists of three focused modules which include:

  • Module 1: Current Legal, Regulatory & Operational Frameworks
  • Module 2: Produced Water Reuse in Unconventional Oil & Gas Operations
  • Module 3: Produced Water Reuse & Research Needs Outside Oil & Gas Operations

Freshwater stress is driven by rising populations, regional droughts, declining groundwater levels and several other factors. When surface water is scarce, communities and industries typically turn to groundwater to meet their freshwater needs.  Produced water may become a resource that could reduce the use of freshwater for some of these needs in specific locations.  

02/2017

Ground Water Report to the Nation

Our groundwater resources are in serious need of attention. Abundant, high quality, low-cost groundwater resources are fundamental to the long-term growth and vitality of our nation, yet this most important resource is often overlooked, if not neglected. Attention to the protection and management of groundwater has consistently lagged behind that given to surface waters, meaning that historic and current water resource laws and policies deal primarily with the protection and management of our more visible lakes, rivers, and wetlands.

The purpose of the Ground Water Report to the Nation is to highlight some of the more prevalent threats to groundwater, share sucess stories, and make recommendations for improved groundwater protection and awareness.  

Note: Please visit the Ground Water Report to the Nation topics page for individual chapters of the report.

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