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U.S. Department of the Interior
US Geological Survey
WRI 88-4103

Water Withdrawals, Use, and Trends in Florida, 1985

Water-Resources Investigations Report 88-4103


Richard L. Marella


Total water withdrawn for use in Florida for 1985 was 17,057 million gallons per day of which 6,259 million gallons per day, or nearly 37 percent, was freshwater and 10,798 million gallons per day was saline. The majority of freshwater withdrawn was ground water (64 percent) and the majority of saline water withdrawn was surface water (99 percent). Thermoelectric power generation accounted for more than 99 percent of saline-water withdrawals. Agricultural irrigation n accounted for the majority of freshwater withdrawals for both ground water (41 percent) and surface water (60 percent) in 1985.

Florida's population increased by nearly 3 million people between 1975 - 85, tourism increased by nearly 13 million visitors, and irrigated agricultural acreage increased by 70,000 during the same time. The use of freshwater to support those activities also has increased, by almost 388 million gallons per day (excluding freshwater withdrawals for thermoelectric power generation) between 1975-85. Additionally, fresh ground-water withdrawals increased 718 million gallons per day between 1975-85. Ground water accounted for 64 percent of Florida's total freshwater use, up from 51 percent in 1980 and 48 percent in 1975.

Florida ranked sixth in the Nation in groundwater withdrawals for 1985 with more than 4,000 million gallons per day withdrawn. Ground water is the primary source of freshwater in Florida because it is readily available and generally is suited for most uses. The Floridan aquifer system, which underlies the entire State, supplied the majority (62 percent) of ground water in Florida for 1985. In contrast to ground water, withdrawals of surface water declined more than 1,373 million gallons per day between 1975-85. The majority of this decrease (1,002 million gallons per day) reflects less water withdrawn for thermoelectric power generation because of more efficient use of cooling water.

The largest amount of freshwater was withdrawn from Palm Beach County and the largest amount of saline water was withdrawn from Hillsborough County in 1985. The following counties withdrew the largest amount of freshwater for each category: Palm Beach (agricultural irrigation), Dade (public supply), Polk (domestic self supplied and commercial- industrial self supplied) and Escambia (thermoelectric power generation).

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