A remarkable (and counterintuitive) graph -
The US economy keeps expanding and the population keeps growing. But we actually use less water now for all purposes than we did back in 1970. That includes freshwater for our showers and toilets. It includes farm irrigation. It also includes withdrawals of both fresh and saline water to cool our fossil fuel and nuclear power plants.More at Vox, including an explanation of "withdrawal" vs. "consumption."
The underlying data comes from a new report by the US Geological Survey, which notes that water for power plants (45 percent) and irrigation (33 percent) still made up most water withdrawals in the US as of 2010. But use in both of those areas has been declining over time.