16 Interesting U.S. Farm Water Facts

by admin on October 5, 2015

Farm irrigation is one of the largest consumers of freshwater in the United States, dwarfing household use. In 2005, irrigation accounted for over 32 times more freshwater withdrawals than domestic use (128 billion gallons per day versus 4 billion gallons per day). Here are 16 interesting facts about water use by America’s farms.

Irrigation equipment on farm fieldAgriculture accounts for approximately 80 percent of the United States’ consumptive water use and over 90 percent in many Western States.
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Since 1950, irrigation has represented about 65 percent of total withdrawals, excluding those for thermoelectric power.
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Surface water withdrawals for irrigation in the United States has decreased from 77 percent of the total in 1950 to 59 percent in 2005 (due to increased groundwater use).
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In 2013, there were 229,237 farms in the United States with 55.3 million irrigated acres.
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In California, almond trees cover nearly 1 million acres and consume 1.07 trillion gallons of water per year.
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In an average year California irrigates 9.6 million acres with about 34 million acre-feet of water.
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More than 90% of pasture and cropland in the 256,000-square-mile Colorado River Basin requires irrigation.
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Irrigated agriculture currently consumes more than 70% of the water supply within the Colorado River basin.
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Four states: California, Idaho, Colorado, and Montana combined accounted for 49 percent of the total irrigation withdrawals (2005).
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More than 90 percent of the groundwater pumped from the Ogallala, the nation’s largest aquifer underlying some 250,000 square miles stretching from Texas to South Dakota, is used for agricultural irrigation.
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80% of Washington water withdrawals are for agriculture (1.8 million irrigated acres).
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43 percent of California farmland in 2010 used some form of gravity irrigation such as flood irrigation rather than more efficient methods like drip irrigation.
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Overall, 42% of California agriculture uses drip irrigation, 43% flood irrigation and 15% sprinklers.
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About half the 60 million acres of irrigated land in the United States use flood irrigation.
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California produces two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts and farmers sold almost $50 billion of food in 2013.
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Over 400,000 acres in California, about 6 percent of cropland, was left unused because of the drought in 2014.
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If you have an interesting farm water fact, please share it in the comments below.

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