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This section explores the different ways agriculture uses water.

Agricultural Uses of Water
Agriculture uses a lot of water. In fact it’s the second largest user of water in the U.S. Water withdrawal: thermoelectric generation 47%, irrigation 34%, public supply 9%, industrial 6%, mining 1%, livestock 1%, domestic 1%, commercial uses 1%.

Since many regions of the U.S. don’t get enough precipitation to grow crops, they depend on irrigation. Farmers irrigate about 15 percent of American farmlands to grow food and fibers. Crops grown on irrigated lands are valued at nearly $70 billion a year—about 40 percent of the total value of all crops sold. Just like crops, livestock need to be watered, but this use accounts for a much smaller piece of the water withdrawal pie. Both of these uses affect the quantity of water available for other needs and can affect the quality of water.

Clean Water Initiative. "Clean Water Successes and Challenges." Online. http://cleanwater.gov/action/c1a.html. May 2002.


Explore More: Water Quality
Copyright 2004, Iowa Public Television
The Explore More project is supported by funds from the
Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust
and the USDE Star Schools Program.


IPTV Market to Market Online Links

"Weather Alters Market Prospects." This Market to Market feature looks at how weather patterns influence agriculture.

"Inland Fishing Makes Waves." This Market to Market feature looks at some Iowa farmers turning to aquaculture.

"Markets Responds to Planting Delays and Drought." This Market to Market feature looks at drought and how it has affected farmers' ability to plant crops.

"Water Issues Trouble Rural America." This Market to Market feature looks at water interests of farming and rural areas. Read about flooding, drought, hydrologic modification, and more.

"Riverkeepers Target Big Pork." This Market to Market feature looks at how rivers are affected by hog lots.

"Agriculture's Clean Water Alliance." These Market to Market features look at nitrates in our water and what we can do about them. Feature 1
Feature 2

PBS NewsHour Online Links
Six African countries face a devastating drought, which has withered crops and decimated livestock. Catherine Bertini, Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Program, discusses how the drought could lead to famine.

Tom Bearden reports on the politics of hog farming in Colorado.