Department of Environmental Conservation

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Water Use & Conservation

Approximately nine billion gallons of water are withdrawn each day from the lakes, rivers, streams, estuaries and groundwaters of upstate New York (this excludes Nassau and Suffolk counties). Uses include public supply, thermoelectric power generation, agriculture, commercial/industrial, recreational and more.

chart of NY water usage
Click image to view full sized chart

Thermoelectric power is by far the most significant of all water use categories, accounting for about 59% of total water withdrawn. Public water supply accounts for the next largest use at 31%. Approximately five percent of water used is for industrial purposes. Agricultural water use comes to less than 1% of state-wide water use.

Water use data was calculated from 2018 water use reports submitted to DEC by all water withdrawers with the capacity to withdraw 100,000 gallons per day or more under the Water Withdrawal Reporting program. For a full sized version of the image to the right, please click it. A document containing charts for the years 2012 through 2018 (PDF) is also available.

Water Conservation Efforts

Water is a valuable limited resource that must be used efficiently in order to meet the challenge of supporting the varied and increasing water uses of New Yorkers. We use water for drinking, irrigation, producing electricity, cooking, manufacturing industrial products, cleaning, and more. Large and small users alike must take part in reducing their consumption of this vital resource. Conserving water saves energy and money, helps protect and preserve the environment, and helps meet future needs. The right margin of this page contains several links describing how to reduce our consumption of water and programs available to help foster that goal.

Water Conservation Requirements for NYSDEC Water Withdrawal Permits

All applications for water withdrawal permits require a Water Conservation Program to demonstrate an applicant's water conservation and efficiency measures. These must be environmentally sound, economically feasible and minimize inefficiencies and water losses. For more information, please visit the Water Conservation Requirements page where Water Conservation Manuals and forms are available.

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