Nebraska Water Science Center
Water use, by category of use, in Nebraska, 2005
More surface water than groundwater was withdrawn for all categories except aquaculture, mining, and self-supplied residential. During 2005, estimated withdrawals by category and in descending order were: thermoelectric power, 8,274 Mgal/d; public supply, 802 Mgal/d; self-supplied industrial, 550 Mgal/d; irrigation, 161 Mgal/d; aquaculture, 75 Mgal/d; self-supplied residential, 39 Mgal/d; livestock, 28 Mgal/d; and mining, 28 Mgal/d.
Public supply refers to water that is withdrawn, treated, and distributed by public suppliers. Public suppliers provide water for a variety of uses, such as residential, commercial, industrial, thermoelectric power, and public-water use. Thermoelectric- power delivery amounts have not been estimated separately for this report, but are included in the industrial/commercial deliveries.
For 2005, public-supply withdrawals were 802 Mgal/d. Public-supply withdrawals were 8 percent of total withdrawals and about 48 percent of total withdrawals for all categories excluding thermoelectric power. The majority of the public-supply water (524 Mgal/d, or 65 percent) was withdrawn from surface-water sources. The remaining 277 Mgal/d, or 35 percent, was withdrawn from wells and springs. In 2005, about 4.04 million people, or 89 percent of the population, depended on water from public suppliers. The total delivery to residential customers was 326 Mgal/d, or about 41 percent of the total withdrawals by public suppliers; combined industrial and commercial deliveries were 355 Mgal/d, or 44 percent; and public use and losses accounted for the remaining 120 Mgal/d, or 15 percent. See the Residential and Industrial sections below for additional details.
Residential water refers to the water that is used for all indoor household purposes, such as drinking, preparing food, bathing, washing clothes and dishes, and flushing toilets, and outdoor purposes, such as watering lawns and gardens. Residential water use is defined in this report as public-supplied residential deliveries plus self-supplied residential withdrawals.
Public-supplied residential deliveries and self-supplied residential water withdrawals were 365 Mgal/d in 2005. Public suppliers delivered 89 percent, or 326 Mgal/d, of residential water. The remaining 39 Mgal/d of residential water was self-supplied from groundwater. Self-supplied residential withdrawals were less than 1 percent of the total water withdrawals and about 2 percent of the withdrawals for all categories except thermoelectric power. About 11 percent of the population (or 521,338 people) relied on private wells for their drinking water.
Irrigation water refers to water that is applied by an irrigation system to assist in the growing of crops and pastures or to maintain vegetative growth in recreational lands such as parks and golf courses. Irrigation includes water that is applied for pre-irrigation, frost protection, chemical application, weed control, field preparation, crop cooling, harvesting, dust suppression, the leaching of salts from the root zone, and water lost in conveyance.
For 2005, total withdrawals were 161 Mgal/d. Irrigation withdrawals were about 2 percent of total withdrawals and about 10 percent of total withdrawals for all categories excluding thermoelectric power. Of the total irrigation withdrawals, 54 percent, or 87 Mgal/d, was from surface water, and the remaining 46 percent, or 74 Mgal/d, was from groundwater. Consumptive use was estimated to be 100 percent. About 135,800 acres were irrigated in 2005. Of this total acreage, about 97 percent, or 132,380 acres, was irrigated with sprinkler irrigation systems; more than 2 percent, or 3,250 acres, was irrigated with microirrigation systems; and less than 1 percent, or 170 acres, was irrigated with surface irrigation systems.
Livestock water is water associated with livestock watering, feedlots, dairy operations, and other on-farm needs. The associated activities include cooling of the facilities for the animals and products, dairy sanitation and cleaning of facilities, animal waste-disposal systems, and incidental water loss. The primary livestock types in Nebraska include poultry, beef cattle and calves, dairy cows and heifers, hogs and pigs, and horses and ponies. For 2005, all withdrawals were considered to be freshwater. The livestock category excludes on-farm residential use (residential category) and irrigation water use.
During 2005, livestock withdrawals were 28 Mgal/d. Surface water was the source for 56 percent (16 Mgal/d) of the livestock withdrawals, and groundwater was the source for the remaining 44 percent (12 Mgal/d). Livestock withdrawals were less than 1 percent of total withdrawals and were nearly 2 percent of total withdrawals excluding thermoelectric power.
Aquaculture water refers to water that is associated with the farming of organisms, such as finfish and shellfish, that live in water and offstream water withdrawals associated with fish hatcheries for food, restoration, conservation, or sport. Aquaculture occurs under controlled feeding, sanitation, and harvestingprocedures primarily in ponds, flow-through raceways, and, to a lesser extent, cages, net pens, and closed-recirculation tanks. All withdrawals were considered to be freshwater.
For 2005, the quantity of water withdrawn for aquaculture was about 75 Mgal/d. Groundwater was the source for 54 percent of the total, or 41 Mgal/d, and surface water was the source for the remaining 46 percent, or 34 Mgal/d. Aquaculture withdrawals were nearly 1 percent of total withdrawals and about 4 percent of total withdrawals for all categories excluding thermoelectric power.
Industrial water is water used for fabrication, processing, washing, and cooling and includes such industries as chemical and allied products, food, paper and allied products, petroleum refining, and steel. Total industrial water use is the sum of public-supplied industrial and commercial deliveries and self-supplied industrial and commercial withdrawals. For this study, total industrial use and public-supplied industrial/commercial deliveries were estimated at the State level only.
For 2005, self-supplied industrial withdrawals were 550 Mgal/d, which is about 6 percent of total withdrawals and about 33 percent of total withdrawals excluding thermoelectric power. Surface water was the source for 95 percent (523 Mgal/d) of the withdrawals, and groundwater was the source of the remaining 5 percent (28 Mgal/d). Statewide, combined public-supplied industrial and commercial deliveries were 355 Mgal/d. Total industrial water use was 906 Mgal/d.
Mining water refers to water that is used for the extraction of naturally occurring minerals including solids, such as coal, sand, gravel, and other ores; liquids, such as crude petroleum; and gases, such as natural gas. Mining also includes uses associated with quarrying, milling, and other preparations customarily done at a mine site or as part of a mining activity. Mining water use does not include water associated with dewatering of an aquifer that is not put to beneficial use and also does not include water used in processing, such as smelting, refining petroleum, or slurry pipeline operations. These processing uses are included in the industrial category.
For 2005, total mining withdrawals were 28 Mgal/d, which is less than 1 percent of total withdrawals and nearly 2 percent of total withdrawals for all categories excluding thermoelectric power. Groundwater was the source of about 70 percent (20 Mgal/d) of withdrawals, and surface water was the source of the remaining 30 percent (8 Mgal/d). All water withdrawals were considered fresh although some low-salinity groundwater has been tapped in parts of the State.
Thermoelectric-power water is water used in the process of generating electricity with steam-driven turbine generators and for other onsite needs. For 2005, thermoelectric-power water withdrawals were compiled by cooling-system type because cooling system type is the primary determinant for the amount of consumptive use relative to withdrawals. Once-through cooling (also known as open-loop cooling) refers to cooling systems in which water is withdrawn from a source, circulated through heat exchangers, and then returned to a surface-water body. Recirculating cooling (also known as closed-loop cooling) refers to cooling systems in which water is withdrawn from a source, circulated through heat exchangers, cooled, and then recycled. Subsequent water withdrawals for a recirculating-cooling system are used to replace water lost to evaporation, blowdown, drift, and leakage. Thermoelectric-power withdrawals were reported by the USGS by condenser cooling water use from 1950 to 1980, by fuel-type from 1985 through 1995, and by cooling type for 2000 and 2005.
The total quantity of water withdrawn for thermoelectric power in 2005 was 8,274 Mgal/d. Surface water was the source for more than 99 percent of the water. Groundwater was the source for 0.22 Mgal/d. Thermoelectric-power withdrawals accounted for 83 percent of total water withdrawals and 87 percent of total surface-water withdrawals. Thermoelectric-power plants that used self-supplied water produced 114,144 net gigawatt-hours of energy in 2005.