Flume, the company that brings connectivity and intelligence to household water usage, today released the inaugural results for the Flume Household Water Use Index, the leading measure of U.S. household water use. The Flume Index shows that indoor household water use continues to decline after peaking during the pandemic in Q2 2020.
The Flume Household Water Use Index is based on data from tens of thousands of Flume devices that are installed on household water meters across the nation. Moving forward, Flume water use data summaries will be reported quarterly.
"The water industry has never before had a way to measure and track demand nationally, and by service area," said water demand expert Peter Mayer, P.E., Principal of WaterDM. "The USGS reports on national water use every five years. The national household end use studies were 15 years apart. It is a remarkable breakthrough that Flume will present detailed national water use information every quarter. These reports will help everyone to better understand and manage water demand."
Ongoing Impacts of COVID-19 on Indoor Household Water Use
When stay-at-home orders went into effect in March and April of 2020, indoor household water use skyrocketed across the United States. Every major metro area experienced a bump in indoor household use. Since then, indoor household water use has steadily declined each quarter through Q1 2021 as shown in Figure 1, which shows indoor household water use in gallons per capita per day (GPCD) for a sample of 20,000 Flume devices across the U.S.
In Q4 2019 (prior to COVID-19) the indoor Flume Household Water Use Index was 50.6 GPCD. During the peak of COVID-19 (Q2 2020), the indoor Flume Index peaked at an average of 61.9 GPCD. During this quarter, indoor water averaged as high as 81.5 GPCD during the week of April 19, 2020. Since then, the indoor Flume Index has steadily declined through Q1 2021, correlating with businesses across the country reopening. However, indoor water use is still about 1.0 GPCD higher in Q1 2021 than it was in Q4 2019.
Indoor Household Use by Metro Area
Indoor per capita use for the 15 most populous Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) in the US was calculated by Flume for Q1 2021. The Seattle MSA was the most efficient metro area during Q1 with an average indoor use of 40.9 GPCD. The Phoenix MSA had the highest indoor use per capita Q1 2021 with an average of 62.7 GPCD.
National Outdoor Household Water Use
As seen in Figure 2, Outdoor Household Water Use was an average of 81.9 Gallons per Household per Day (GPHD) in Q1 2021. That is a slight increase of 2.1% over Q1 2020. This represents the average outdoor use from households across the US in all climates. Specific information on outdoor use by metro area can be seen on the interactive dashboard, link provided below.
Figure 2: Flume Outdoor Household Water Use Index - Q1 2020 through Q1 2021.
Almost half of the United States is currently experiencing some level of drought and a hot, dry summer season is anticipated in many regions. Cities and states are planning irrigation restrictions in order to ease strains on dwindling water supplies. Figure 2 shows outdoor use ramping up steeply at the end of Q1 2021. The index will continue to track how the drought will impact outdoor water use in the coming warmer months.