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Populations using public-supply groundwater in the conterminous U.S. 2010; Identifying the wells, hydrogeologic regions, and hydrogeologic mapping units

Tyler D. Johnson, Kenneth Belitz, Leon J. Kauffman, Elise Watson, John T. Wilson | September 28th, 2021

Most Americans receive their drinking water from publicly supplied sources, a large portion of it from groundwater. Mapping these populations consistently and at a high resolution is important for understanding where the resource is used and needs to be protected. The results show that 269 million people are supplied by public supply, 107 million are supplied by groundwater and 162 million are supplied by surface water. The population using public supply drinking water was mapped in two ways: the census-enhanced method (CEM) evenly distributes the population across populated census blocks, and the urban land-use enhanced method (ULUEM) distributes the population only to certain urban land use designations. In addition, a two-dimensional polygon data set was created for the conterminous U.S. that identifies 177 unique Hydrogeologic Mapping Units (HMUs) with similar hydrogeologic characteristics. The HMUs do not overlap, but they can delineate areas where stacked hydrogeologic regions (HRs) contribute drinking water from below the surface. HRs are water-bearing geologic regions identified as either a principal aquifers (PA) or secondary hydrogeologic regions (SHR). Within each HMU, the wells were used to determine the proportion of each HR that is providing groundwater to the HMU. In 63% of the HMUs, a single HR is providing water to the public supply wells located within it, while the rest of the HMUs show that the wells are tapping up to a maximum of four stacked HRs. In total, groundwater from 108 HRs provides drinking water for public supply, six of which provide more than 50% of the groundwater used for public supply drinking water. The aquifer serving the largest number of equivalent people (>17 million) is the glacial aquifer. The HR providing the greatest number of people per km2 is the Biscayne aquifer in Florida at nearly 453 people per km2.


drinking water, Groundwater Exchange

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Hydrological Region