A new U.S. Geological Survey geonarrative illustrates where domestic (private) water wells are located and how many people are using them, based on the results of a 2019 USGS study. Nearly 40 million people in the United States rely on a domestic well for their drinking-water supply.
The geonarrative displays interactive maps that allow the user to view the number of people who rely on domestic wells per square kilometer, and the number and percentage of people by state using domestic wells. Users can zoom in on any area, although the maps are not intended to be used at the scale of a single house.
The new research highlighted in the geonarrative uses population data from the two most recent censuses (2000 and 2010) to project the population relying on domestic wells for the years 1990 to 2010. The 1990 census was the last nationally consistent survey of the source of drinking water to a home; subsequent census questionnaires did not request this information.
The number of people using domestic well water in the contiguous United States is estimated to have increased 1.5% from 1990 to 2000— from 36.70 million people to 37.25 million people—and increased slightly from 2000 to 2010 to 37.29 million people. Although the number of people has grown, as a percentage of the population it has decreased, from 16.4% in 1970 to an estimated 12.2% in 2010.
Knowing the location of domestic wells and the populations they serve can aid in optimizing groundwater-quality testing to help ensure safe drinking water in domestic wells nationwide. For instance, knowing where a high density of domestic well use overlies potentially corrosive groundwater could help focus water-quality testing for lead.
“The research outlined is an exciting step toward understanding America’s water well usage and could prove to be an important overview for our industry,” said NGWA CEO Terry S. Morse, CAE, CIC. “We look forward to studying the data and providing further analysis in the near future.”
Click here to read more and see the geonarrative.