Water use continues downward trend even as population grows

Aug. 12, 2021

Dripping faucet

Conservation practices indoors and outdoors are adding up to water savings across the District.

Trends across the St. Johns River Water Management District’s 18 counties show that total water use in 2020 was 1% lower than the five-year average. Daily per capita water use dropped to 115 gallons per person per day, remaining below the 10-year average of 128 gallons and is a decrease from 155 gallons per person per day in 2001.

That’s good news in a region of Florida that has seen a population growth of 40% since 2001. The latest data is part of our 2020 Survey of Annual Water Use report, information we have published annually since 1978. As part of our core mission of water supply, the annual water use surveys assess total water use, with data arranged by source, category of use, and county.

Within our District, the largest water use continues to be public supply (water supplied by a utility), which represents 53% of total water use, followed by agricultural irrigation at 23% and commercial/industrial/institutional and mining/dewatering uses at 9% of water use. Other categories of water use are domestic self-supply and small public supply systems (7%), landscape/recreational self-supply (5%) and power generation self-supply (3%).

Although public supply water use in 2020 was slightly higher than the 10-year average (due to factors such as rainfall / drought conditions and the economy), the gross per capita rate has seen a significant decrease since 2001 and is 17% lower than 2011. Also, since 2001, total public supply water use has increased by 4% though total population served by public supply has increased by 40% to 4.78 million people.

Per capita water use is influenced by several factors, including water conservation. Our staff work year-round to promote water conservation in many ways, including:

  • Collaboration with state and local governments, utilities and the state’s other water management districts, providing technical assistance, data, comprehensive plan reviews, and examples for local watering ordinances and rate structures.
  • Water supply planning, which includes promoting water conservation practices as part of the planning process and working with utilities and other water management districts.
  • Cost-share programs, providing significant funds to local governments, utilities and the ag community that help pay for projects designed to improve water efficiencies in our communities.
  • Regulatory processes, which includes the Consumptive Use Permitting program, establishing and enforcing watering rules, and compliance reports.
  • District outreach to students, teachers and the community through our Blue School Grant Program and speaker’s bureau, along with educational water conservation tools and other resources on our website.

Each of us individually has control over our own water use behaviors and we’re encouraged by efforts to save water and use water in the most efficient ways possible. This yearly report is a great reminder to keep doing our part to conserve water in our homes and businesses.

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