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Value to the Nation: Water Supply Fast Facts

VTN Fast Facts mapWater is essential for life and a critical input into virtually all economic activity. Although the importance of water is evident, estimating its value is a complex process. Consequently, there is great variability in available estimates. For example, a 2013 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report (EPA, 2013) estimates a range of value from $1 to $4,500 per acre foot of water [$3 to $13,800 per millions of gallons per day (MGD)] for publicly and privately provided water.

USACE's primary role in the water supply industry is to provide water supply storage in partnership with state and local interests. The value of USACE's contribution to the nation's municipal and industrial (M&I) water supply is not in the form of finished water at the tap ready to be consumed. The USACE's partners provide finished water.

Water Supply Fast Facts Reports

Water Supply Fast Facts Reports can be selected by national, project, state, watershed, USACE Division, or USACE District level. Select 2021 Water Supply Fast Facts Reports from the USACE Digital Library collections:

You can select an individual report, or go to a collection of reports. For a list of all reports in a collection, for example, in the project report collection, select "All Project Reports".

How these numbers were calculated.

Water Supply Benefits

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The primary National Economic Development (NED) benefit of USACE Water Supply efforts would be measured by the resource cost of the alternative most likely to be implemented in the absence of the storage provided by USACE's reservoirs. Given resource and information constraints, the data needed to measure cost of the most likely alternatives on a national level are not currently available to USACE. Therefore, the Value to the Nation water supply benefit estimate presented here does not represent an NED benefit estimate; rather, it is an attempt to quantify the value of water stored within USACE reservoirs. The primary benefit of USACE water supply projects is that they provide the ability to store large amounts of water.

Water Supply storage and agreement information noted here is based on the FY 2016 Municipal, Industrial and Irrigation Water Supply Database Report.


Of the approximately 380 reservoir projects operated and maintained by USACE, 136 currently contain storage space for M&I water supply. Combined, the projects contain approximately 7.9 million acre feet of storage space allocated for M&I water supply. About 78 percent, or more than 6.2 million acre feet, of this storage is currently under contract. 

Water supply benefits are estimated by multiplying daily present use water supply yield by 365 days to arrive at an annual yield. The resulting number then is multiplied by an estimate of the average price of water in the U.S.

The most recent and reliable estimate of the average price of water in the U.S. was reported by NUS in 2008. Unfortunately, at present there is not sufficient information available to accurately compare the earlier estimate to the NUS estimate used in this analysis. The NUS estimate of the price of water is considered to be the best available estimate for the average price of water in the U.S., even though it includes treatment and other costs. 

Water Supply Benefits = Yield from Contracted Storage (MGD1) x 365 x Average Price of Water per MGD $6.5 Billion = 5.063 (MGD) x 365 (days) x $3,527 (per MGD)


Water Supply storage and agreement information is based on the FY 2016 Municipal, Industrial and Irrigation Water Supply Database Report.

1Where 1 MGD = 3.069 acre-feet. Please note that, in order to convert a volume (acre-feet) to a rate (MGD), and vice versa, this conversion assumes 1 acre-foot = 1 acre-foot per year.

Sources of Data

  • FY 2021 Fast Facts
    • FY 2016 Municipal, Industrial and Irrigation Water Supply Database Report. (2017) Alexandria, VA: Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
    • Operations and Maintenance Business Information Link (OMBIL) accessed via USACE Enterprise Data Warehouse. (2017). Electronic database. Maintained by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
    • Thompson Reuters, "Average U.S. Water Costs Increase by 7.3%." 2008. Available via http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/nus-consulting-903477.htm
  • FY 2020 Fast Facts
    • FY 2016 Municipal, Industrial and Irrigation Water Supply Database Report. (2017) Alexandria, VA: Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
    • Operations and Maintenance Business Information Link (OMBIL) accessed via USACE Enterprise Data Warehouse. (2017). Electronic database. Maintained by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
    • Thompson Reuters, "Average U.S. Water Costs Increase by 7.3%." 2008. Available via http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/nus-consulting-903477.htm
  • FY 2019 Fast Facts
    • FY 2016 Municipal, Industrial and Irrigation Water Supply Database Report. (2017) Alexandria, VA: Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
    • Operations and Maintenance Business Information Link (OMBIL) accessed via USACE Enterprise Data Warehouse. (2017). Electronic database. Maintained by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
    • Thompson Reuters, "Average U.S. Water Costs Increase by 7.3%." 2008. Available via http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/nus-consulting-903477.htm
  • FY 2018 Fast Facts
    • FY 2016 Municipal, Industrial and Irrigation Water Supply Database Report. (2017) Alexandria, VA: Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
    • Operations and Maintenance Business Information Link (OMBIL) accessed via USACE Enterprise Data Warehouse. (2017). Electronic database. Maintained by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
    • Thompson Reuters, "Average U.S. Water Costs Increase by 7.3%." 2008. Available via http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/nus-consulting-903477.htm
  • FY 2017 Fast Facts
    • FY 2016 Municipal, Industrial and Irrigation Water Supply Database Report. (2017) Alexandria, VA: Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
    • Operations and Maintenance Business Information Link (OMBIL) accessed via USACE Enterprise Data Warehouse. (2017). Electronic database. Maintained by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
    • Thompson Reuters, "Average U.S. Water Costs Increase by 7.3%." 2008. Available via http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/nus-consulting-903477.htm
  • FY 2016 Fast Facts
    • FY 2016 Municipal, Industrial and Irrigation Water Supply Database Report. (2017) Alexandria, VA: Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
    • Operations and Maintenance Business Information Link (OMBIL) accessed via USACE Enterprise Data Warehouse. (2017). Electronic database. Maintained by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
    • Thompson Reuters, "Average U.S. Water Costs Increase by 7.3%." 2008. Available via http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/nus-consulting-903477.htm

Water Supply Fast Facts Archive

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Select 2020 Water Supply Fast Facts Reports from the USACE Digital Library collections:

You can select an individual report, or go to a collection of reports. For a list of all reports in a collection, for example, in the project report collection, select "All Project Reports".

How these numbers were calculated.


Select 2019 Water Supply Fast Facts Reports from the USACE Digital Library collections:

You can select an individual report, or go to a collection of reports. For a list of all reports in a collection, for example, in the project report collection, select "All Project Reports".

How these numbers were calculated.


Select 2018 Water Supply Fast Facts Reports from the USACE Digital Library collections:

You can select an individual report, or go to a collection of reports. For a list of all reports in a collection, for example, in the project report collection, select "All Project Reports".

How these numbers were calculated.


Select 2017 Water Supply Fast Facts Reports from the USACE Digital Library collections:

You can select an individual report, or go to a collection of reports. For a list of all reports in a collection, for example, in the project report collection, select "All Project Reports".

How these numbers were calculated.


Select 2016 Water Supply Fast Facts Reports from the USACE Digital Library collections:

You can select an individual report, or go to a collection of reports. For a list of all reports in a collection, for example, in the project report collection, select "All Project Reports".

How these numbers were calculated.