Which Florida County Uses the Most Water?

Front of Sumter County Courthouse

by Taylor Gantt and Armin Gafurovic
February 21, 2017

In a state where talk of a water shortage has turned into talk of a water crisis, we were compelled to see how each county’s water usage stacked up in Florida.

Based on the most recent water analysis report issued by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Sumter County has the distinction of being the biggest water user in Florida on a per capita basis.

So, just how much water are residents of Sumter County using? According to USGS data published in November 2014, Sumter County used about 12.65 million gallons of water daily in 2010, totaling 4,617,250,000 gallons. On a per capita basis, that translates to each Sumter County resident using 177 gallons of water a day.

The Villages

Susanna Tarokh, a spokeswoman for the Southwest Florida Water Management District, says there may be one factor contributing to higher per capita residential water use in Sumter County.

“Sumter County has a high proportion of public supply utilities serving retirement communities in comparison to other counties in our district,” Tarokh says. The households of the communities also have the lowest number of people per household: about 1.96 persons per household.

Tarokh explained that the district average is about 2.33 people per household based on 2010 Census Bureau figures.

With all other characteristics being equal -- such as similar lot sizes, similar outdoor water usage practices and similar construction -- lower numbers of people per household would tend to increase per capita water usage per household, she says.

An Orlando Sentinel article pointed out that the major need for new water results from the expansion of The Villages. The Villages is a fast-growing retirement community that offers many amenities, such as homes with lush, green lawns; shopping centers and town centers; pools; and golf courses. The Villages is spread out over Sumter, Lake and Marion counties in Central Florida.

Photo: RDC

Water Restrictions

To curtail water usage, Sumter County has imposed restrictions limiting the watering of established lawns to twice a week. New lawns have a two-month grace period until the twice-a-week restrictions kick in. There are no restrictions yet on fountains, car washing or pressure washing.

Top 5 Water Users

As we already mentioned, Sumter County tops the list of per capita water users in Florida. Here are the top five:

  1. Sumter County: 177 gallons of water per resident per day
  2. Monroe County: 160 gallons of water per resident per day
  3. De Soto County: 147 gallons of water per resident per day
  4. Walton County: 146 gallons of water per resident per day
  5. Nassau County: 140 gallons of water per resident per day

In the table below, you can explore the per capita water use for each county in Florida, along with the median household income for each county.

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Top Photo: Wikimedia