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Water Use Patterns in the Watersheds of the Georgia Riverine Estuaries

Authors: Merryl Alber and Carrie Smith (Dept of Marine Sciences, Univ of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA)

Citation: Proceedings of the 2001 Georgia Water Resources Conference, Athens, GA (K.J. Hatcher, editor) The Institute of Ecology, Univ. of Georgia, pp.752-755.

PDF: The full paper is available here (opens in new window)

This paper examined water use patterns in the hydrologic units that comprise the watersheds of the 5 major coastal rivers in Georgia (Savannah, Ogeechee, Altamaha, Satilla, St. Marys). The data for this analysis were obtained from the Georgia Water Use Program, which regularly surveys both water sources (groundwater and surface water) and water uses (domestic, commercial, industrial, mining, irrigation, livestock, thermoelectric, and hydroelectric) as part of the USGS National Water Use Synthesis.

Total water withdrawal in the study area totaled 5749 million gallons per day (mgd) in 1995, with no large changes in either water withdrawal or water use patterns for the last 3 reporting years (1985, 1990, and 1995).

Surface water accounted for 91% of the water withdrawal in the region, and much of this was for thermoelectric use in the watersheds of the Savannah and Altamaha Rivers. However, most of the groundwater that was withdrawn was withdrawn in the Coastal Plain.

Only 10% of the water withdrawn was actually consumed, with the remainder returned to the surface water. Irrigation represented the largest consumptive use, and much of this occurred in the Coastal Plain.

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This page was updated October 13, 2006