Groundwater Use In Montana
Groundwater is an important resource in Montana, and will become more so in the future as the state's population and industries continue to grow. Groundwater provides 94 percent of Montana’s rural domestic-water supply and 39 percent of the public-water supply. Every day approximately 90 million gallons of groundwater are used for irrigation, 16 million gallons to supply water for livestock, and 20 million gallons per day are used to support industry (Solley and others, 1990). Montana Groundwater Atlas (PDF)
Groundwater Use In The United States
The EPA reports that:
- Nationally 53% of the population relies to some extent on groundwater as a source of drinking water. This percentage is even higher in rural areas where most residents rely on potable or treatable ground water as an economical source of drinking water.
- Eighty-one percent of community water systems are dependent on groundwater.
- Seventy-four percent of community water systems are small groundwater systems serving 3,300 people or less.
- Ninety-five percent of the approximately 200,000 non-community water systems (serving schools, parks, etc.) are groundwater systems.
- Irrigation accounts for approximately 64% of national groundwater withdrawals.
- Public drinking water supplies account for approximately 19% of the Nation's total groundwater withdrawals.
- Domestic, commercial, livestock, industrial, mining, and thermoelectric withdrawals together account for approximately 17% of national groundwater withdrawals.
Most frequently reported groundwater contamination sources and types by States include:
- Leaking underground storage tanks. About 400,000 of an estimated 5 to 6 million underground storage tanks in the United States are thought to be leaking. About 30% of all tanks store petroleum or hazardous materials.
- Septic tanks. Approximately 23 million domestic septic systems are in operation in the United States. About half a million new systems are installed each year.
- Municipal landfills. Of the quarter million solid waste disposal facilities in the United States, about 6,000 are municipal solid waste facilities. Approximately 25% of these municipal facilities have groundwater monitoring capabilities.
- Agricultural activities. Seventy-seven percent of the 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides produced annually in the United States is applied to land in agricultural production, which often overlies aquifers.
- Abandoned hazardous waste sites. Approximately 33,000 sites have been identified as abandoned hazardous waste sites, of which 42% involve groundwater contamination.
- Map Excerpts from the Montana Groundwater Atlas
- Map of Irrigation Groundwater Use by State from the USGS
- Map of Public-Supply Groundwater Use by State from the USGS
- Map of Total Groundwater Use by State from the USGS
- Digital Geologic Maps from the USGS
- Groundwater Wells Layer GIS Shapefile
- Groundwater Wells Layer GIS Metadata
- Search for Well Information with the Montana Digital Atlas
- Salinity Classification, Mapping and Management in Alberta
- USSL Publications 1939 to Present on Saline Seep
- Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory – Sidney, MT
Chemicals, Fertilizers, and Toxicity in Groundwater
- Estimates of Fertilizer Use by County from the USGS
- Water Chemistry Questions and Answers from the USGS
Educational Groundwater Sites
- Montana State University Water Center
- Understanding Groundwater from the University of Nebraska
- Groundwater and Drinking Water: An Expert Guide for Kids
- Water Use Estimates from the USGS
- Water-Resources Activities of the U.S. Geological Survey in Montana
- Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology (MBMG)
- MBMG's Groundwater Information Center (GWIC)
- EPA Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water
- Facts about Water Use in the Home from the USGS
- A List of Useful Water Conservation Websites
- Groundwater Factsheet from Environment Canada