Daily Water Usage: The United States vs. Cape Town

Water restrictions in Cape Town are 50 liters (or 13.2 gallons) per person per day. How much is 13.2 gallons? To get a better idea of what it’s like to live in a city in the midst of a water crisis, we compare the average amount of water used for daily activities in the United States with the total daily water restrictions in Cape Town.

Daily water allowance in Cape Town per person = 13.2 gallons1

Average daily water use for the average person in the United States = 80 – 100 gallons2

Typical Water Use at Home in the United States3

ActivityAverage Amount of Water Used*
36 gallons
2 – 5 gallons per minute
1 – 2 gallons per minute
Washing hands and face
1 -2 gallons per minute
6 – 16 gallons per minute
Dish-washing by hand
8 – 27 gallons
Clothes washer
25 – 40 gallons per load
Toilet flush
3 gallons
Glass of drinking water
.0625 gallons
Outdoor watering
2 gallons per minute

*Note: Several activities have a range of water use due to the variance in efficiency of appliances. For example, newer shower heads use less water than older models.


1https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/20/world/africa/cape-town-water-day-zero.html Return to footnote reference
2https://water.usgs.gov/edu/qa-home-percapita.html Return to footnote reference
3https://water.usgs.gov/edu/qa-home-percapita.html Return to footnote reference