Water Withdrawal & Consumptive Use: Estimates & Projections
Image of cover of new report published in 2021.

DRBC's Water Supply and Planning Program focuses on water security - ensuring that there is a sustainable supply of suitable quality water in the Delaware River Basin (DRB).

To support this water resource management goal, the DRBC studies water use and plans for future water availability in the DRB.

In October 2021, the DRBC published a new report titled Water Withdrawal and Consumptive Use Estimates for the Delaware River Basin (1990-2017) with Projections through 2060. The report analyzes 30 years of historic withdrawal data and projects withdrawal demands to the year 2060.


  • View/Download Report (pdf 40 MB)

  • View News Release (issued October 19, 2021)

Report Goals

  • Analyze existing water withdrawal and consumptive use data for the DRB from 1990-2017

  • Project Water Withdrawals through 2060

Report Focus

  • Major Water Withdrawal Sectors: Public Water Supply, Power Generation, Industry, Irrigation, Mining, Self-Supplied Domestic, Out-of-Basin Diversions & other

  • Consumptive Use: Water that is withdrawn/taken from the Basin, but not returned

Key Conclusions

  • Most water withdrawals are coming from surface water (~95%), with the remainder from groundwater.

  • Peak water withdrawal in the DRB has likely already occurred. Total water withdrawals are projected to decrease by about 1 billion gallons per day by 2060. 

  • The overall consumptive use of water has remained the same & is projected to remain constant (~12% of total water withdrawn). One reason is a change in technology for generating power; newer recirculating technology withdrawals less water overall, but results in higher rates of evaporation.

  • Overall population in the Basin has gone up, but the amount of water we use has not. This is indicative of good water conservation practices in the DRB. This trend is projected to continue - increase in population, but not overall water use.

  • Most people living in the Basin are serviced by public water providers, with only a small percentage relying on private wells (self-supplied domestic).
Historic and Projected Water Withdrawals from the DRB. Historic & Projected Consumptive Water Use in the DRB.
Historical and Projected Water Withdrawals from the
Delaware River Basin for various sectors.

View larger image (jpg)
Historical and Projected Consumptive Water Use in the
Delaware River Basin for various sectors.

View larger image (jpg)

How will this Report be Used?

The results of this study will be incorporated into future withdrawal/availability assessments of the Delaware River Basin, considering scenarios such as reservoir operations, a repeated drought of record and climate change impacts.

Interested in Downloading the Data?

This is the first time in DRBC’s history that almost 30-years of withdrawal data have been used to perform water withdrawal projections, building off of years of foundational work to compile historical data and leveraging advancements in data sharing and computational methods.

DRBC is providing the historical and projected data supporting this report as a free downloadable file for anyone to use.

Visualize the Report's Data

DRBC staff have developed the following application that allows users to explore the report's data. Data can be filtered and also downloaded. Get started by first clicking the "?" in the top right corner. 

Please note: this application works best using Chrome. While you can zoom in, the application is best viewed at 100%. Page 1/2 offers data for the entire Delaware River Basin; page 2/2 is for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Groundwater Protected Area (SEPA-GWPA).

Presentations Given

Report Acknowledgements & Disclaimers

Funding Acknowledgement: This work was funded in part by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund (DWCF), grant number 72417. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. Government or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and its funding sources. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. Government, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation or its funding sources.

Glossary Disclaimer: This report is not a rule, regulation or guidance and has no legal significance. Although certain definitions in the Glossary to this report are derived from the Delaware River Basin Compact and implementing regulations, all definitions, regardless of their sources, are provided solely to assist readers in understanding the data and other information presented herein.

Data Release Disclaimer: The data release accompanying this report contains data and associated metadata that are products of a detailed analysis conducted by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) staff for the unique purposes of this and related future reports. Although these data and metadata have been reviewed for accuracy and completeness and are approved for release by the DRBC, no express or implied warranty is made regarding the utility of the data for other purposes or their display on all computer systems, nor does the act of distribution constitute any such warranty.


Contact Michael Thompson, P.E. at michael.thompson@drbc.gov