Water Use

Water supplies to the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas have been stressed due to recent population and economic growth, and an extended drought. The Red River Basin is a large potential source of water to the area. Sources of water in the basin include the Red River, its tributaries, associated reservoirs, and groundwater in alluvial and bedrock aquifers. Provisions in the Red River Compact apportion water from major tributaries and the Lake Texoma Reservoir between Oklahoma and Texas.

Study Component Leads

B. Pierre Sargent

Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center

Large withdrawals of water from the Red River Basin could decrease available water for current users, change salinity, and reduce streamflow in the Red River. Withdrawals from freshwater tributaries could increase salinity in the river, which would impair use of water for irrigation, public water supplies, and other purposes. Increased withdrawals could reduce the availability of water in the basin for present and likely future needs, and affect lake levels, ecological flows, and downstream navigation.

Documentation of surface-water and groundwater withdrawals within the Red River basin are needed by water planners, managers, and stakeholders as a basis for decisions about sustainable water use and to predict amounts of freshwater likely to be available in the basin during future conditions.

The Red River basin includes 93,200 square miles across Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. The Red River basin comprises 74 HUC-8s, 4,371 HUC-12s, and all or parts of 155 counties, including 33 in Arkansas, 31 in Louisiana, 2 in New Mexico, 35 in Oklahoma, and 54 in Texas. There are 473 individual HUC-8/county combinations in the basin.


  1. Estimation and compilation of 2010 and 2015 water-withdrawals by drainage basins delineated by 8-digit hydrologic unit codes (HUCs).
  2. Estimation of withdrawals from the Red River alluvial and Seymour aquifers in areas of Oklahoma and Texas above the Denison Dam on Lake Texoma from 1995-2016 to support groundwater modeling efforts.
  3. Estimation of surface-water withdrawals from 1980-2016 to support surface-water modeling efforts.
  4. Estimation or enhancement of irrigation withdrawals using GIS-based crop-cover data.
  5. Estimation of inter-basin water transfers.
  6. Estimation of withdrawals, returns, and other data for selected categories of use that were optional for the 2010 national water-use compilation.

Final Water Use Deliverables

The methods used and data compiled for the 2010 and 2015 water withdrawals by HUC-8 will be documented in a data release. In addition, the water use study component will update the USGS National Water Information System Aggregate Water-Use Data System and contribute to the groundwater and rainfall-runoff modeling reports.