Department of Environmental Conservation

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Water Use & Conservation

Just less than 9 billion gallons of water are withdrawn each day from the lakes, rivers, streams, estuaries and groundwaters of New York State (excluding Nassau and Suffolk counties) for uses that include public supply, thermoelectric power generation, agriculture, commercial/industrial, recreational and more.

Pie charts showing the TotalWater Use by Category in New York State, 2017
Click image to view full sized chart

Thermoelectric power is by far the most significant of all water use categories, accounting for more than 70% of total water withdrawn. Public water supply accounts for the next largest use at 20%. Just under 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 actual 2016 water use reports submitted to NYSDEC under the Water Withdrawal Reporting program. To see a full sized version of the image above please click it. A document containing charts for the years 2012 through 2017 (PDF, 1.6 MB) 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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