State Water Facts
Every region of America has its own unique topography, climate, and water needs. Learn more about the vital role water plays in your area by clicking on a state below. Check back often for additional fact sheets!
Some areas of Arizona are classified as abnormally dry to severe, according to the Arizona Drought Monitoring Technical Committee drought classification system. Water supply impacts vary geographically, and areas with access to reservoirs are less affected. With a naturally arid climate, a significant population increase in the last decade, and the potential effects of climate change, water shortages continue to be a possibility in the state's future.
From its hot, dry deserts to its snowcapped peaks and foggy shores, California is a mosaic of diverse culture, climate, and geography. The state's varying water needs and resources are both a reflection and a consequence of this diversity. Balancing water supply and demand is a perennial problem in the state. Californians are no strangers to droughts and water restrictions. Although California faces some of the most challenging water issues in the country, the state is also a national leader in water efficiency and water conservation.
Just as Colorado's topography varies from the towering Rocky Mountains in the West to the flat Eastern Plains, the state's freshwater resources fluctuate depending upon location and elevation. Despite relatively abundant precipitation in Colorado's mountains, most of the state is semi-arid and heavily dependent upon annual snowmelt and its runoff from the mountains to the plains, where a majority of the population resides and most of the state's water is used. Because no major rivers flow into Colorado, the state relies nearly entirely on precipitation to replenish its freshwater resources. In fact, the Rocky Mountain states obtain 70 to 90 percent of their water from snowmelt, so a dry winter can mean drought in the summer.
Florida is surrounded by water and is home to the second largest freshwater lake wholly contained within the United States, Lake Okeechobee. Natural beauty and warm temperatures attract a large population; Florida is the nation’s fourth most populous state, with the number of residents continuing to rise.
From the expanding Atlanta metropolitan region suburbs to the world–class golf courses on the Atlantic Coast, Georgia’s economy depends upon a consistent supply of fresh water. Though Georgia has a humid climate and a statewide annual rainfall of 51 inches, periodic water shortages have become a fact of life for the state’s residents. Such shortages are triggered not only by occasional droughts, but also by uncertain aquifer supplies and a dwindling number of new surface water sources available to satisfy the state’s growing population.
Indiana has more than 35,000 miles of rivers and streams, 100,000 acres of publicly owned lakes and reservoirs, and 50 miles of Great Lakes shoreline. These surface water resources play a crucial role in industry, agriculture, and energy production in the state. About two-thirds of Indiana's population depends on ground water for drinking and household uses. Indiana is generally considered to have adequate water resources to satisfy its domestic, industrial, and environmental water supply needs, but as it looks to the future, Indiana is focusing on using water more efficiently across the state, to address its growing population and protect this precious natural resource.
Maryland’s direct access to the Potomac River, Chesapeake Bay, and Atlantic Ocean makes it a haven for water lovers, water sports, and fishing. However, the state’s climate, geology, and significant droughts in recent years have highlighted critical freshwater supply issues throughout this Mid-Atlantic state.
Nevada is a state defined by contrasts. With mountain lakes and arid scrublands, cattle ranches and extreme sports, Nevada represents the vast array of opportunities offered by the American West. From the pristine wilderness near Lake Tahoe to the world-class shows in Las Vegas, Nevada also enjoys a booming tourism industry. Although Las Vegas has become an oasis of economic prosperity in the desert, the entire Silver State has also come to typify the nation's increasingly urgent need to protect its diminishing water resources.
Location. Location. Location. It's New Jersey's greatest asset—from the sandy beaches of the Jersey Shore to the bright lights of Atlantic City. Close proximity to New York City and Philadelphia also make New Jersey the state with the highest population density in the United States. Though generally considered a "water rich" state with an average rainfall of 45 inches per year, New Jersey faces long-term water issues as its population continues to grow—while water supplies remain constant.
Water is a precious resource everywhere in the country, but its importance is magnified in New Mexico’s arid climate. The capital, Santa Fe, receives less than 15 inches of rain per year on average, and parts of the state receive less than 10 inches annually. New Mexico’s natural beauty and open space help to draw new residents to the state, putting additional pressure on water resources. In fact, New Mexico’s population is projected to increase by more than 15 percent between 2000 and 2030.
New York State is known for its abundant water resources and natural beauty. The Finger Lakes, the Great Lakes, and Niagara Falls attract thousands of visitors each year and provide the state with water for household, business, and industrial use. At the same time, the state is home to the bustling metropolis of New York City, with the sizeable water needs that one would expect from the largest population hub in the United States.
Benefiting from a humid climate and substantial underground water resources, North Carolina has historically been considered a water-rich state. In recent years, however, the state has faced water shortages due to a combination of rapid population growth, drought, and aquifer degradation. Experts predict that if present growth and water use trends continue, North Carolinians will find it increasingly difficult to satisfy their water needs in the coming decades.
Nicknamed the "Webfoot State," Oregon has a reputation for having an abundance of water. But Oregon’s water supply has experienced increased pressure from a growing state population, the effects of climate change, and the competing interests of agricultural, recreational, residential, and industrial water users. Today, Oregonians are no strangers to summer water shortages.
South Carolinians are fortunate to have an abundance of clean, fresh water. Statewide, South Carolina receives an average of about 48 inches of water per year from precipitation. That’s significantly more than the 36 inches per year that famously rainy Seattle receives.
As residents of the second most populous state in the country, Texans have a large and continually growing demand for water. According to the Texas Water Development Board, by 2060 the state's demand for water is likely to increase by 27 percent compared to its demand in 2000.
Split down the middle by the snowy Cascade Mountains, Washington state tends to have wetter weather on the western side and be drier to the east. While urban centers such as Seattle and Olympia drive water demand on the western side of the state, the heavily agricultural eastern part of the state requires water for irrigation, as well as sustaining expanding cities such as Spokane. Agriculture is the single biggest water user in the state, with more than 380,000 acres irrigated by ground water.