Swipe to explore

Pinch to zoom in and out

Tap a button to learn more

Explore the watershed where you live!

Watershed Region MapPacific NorthwestCaliforniaGreat BasinLower ColoradoUpper ColoradoMissouriSouris Red RainyUpper MissouriGreat LakesMid AtlanticNew EnglandOhioSouth Atlantic GulfTennesseeLower MississippiArkansa-White-RedTexas GulfRio GrandeHawaiiAlaska

Where does my water come from?

A watershed is an area of land that drains into a specific body of water like a river, stream, or lake. It includes everything within its borders: all the land, air, plants and animals, mountains, deserts, cities and farms, even people! Every body of water has a watershed. Within a large watershed, there are many small watersheds that drain into it. 

A Watershed
Surface WaterGround Water

Surface Water

Water above the surface of the land, including lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, floodwater and runoff.

Ground Water

Water found in spaces between soil particles underground.

Total Water Usage in the United States

We all know that water is important to our everyday life, from drinking water, to taking showers, and flushing the toilet. Did you know that the amount of water used in our homes is actually a small portion of the total water use in the United States? 

Explore the water drop below by clicking or tapping each segment to see where water is used.

Water Usage Chart
Livestock, Domestic Wells, Mining, AgricultureIndustrialPublic SupplyIrrigationThermoelectric

Livestock water use is used for livestock watering, feedlots, dairy operations and other on-farm needs.

Domestic Wells
Domestic (private) wells can provide water for both indoor and outdoor household water uses such as lawn irrigation, laundry, and showers, to name a few. 

Mining water use is water used for the extraction of natural resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas.

Aquaculture water use is water associated with raising organisms that live in water; for food, restoration, conservation or sport.

Industrial water use includes water used in the manufacturing and production processes such as washing, cooling, transporting products and sanitation needs in a manufacturing facility.

Public Supply
Public water supply systems regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provide drinking water to 90 percent of Americans. Public water supply systems draw water from lakes, rivers, reservoirs and wells for domestic, commercial, and industrial uses. Mister Car Wash draws its water from public supply just like other businesses you see every day.

Irrigation is the agricultural process of applying controlled amounts of water to land for agricultural purposes and  growing crops. Estimates vary, but about 70 percent of the world's freshwater withdrawals go towards irrigation uses.


Much of the electricity used in the U.S. comes from thermoelectric power plants. Water is used for generating electricity in steam-driven turbine generators. It is also used to cool the power-producing equipment.

Where does water go after I use it?

waterWater on Earth is constantly moving. For example, surface water in a lake may seep into the soil and become groundwater, which can later emerge from a spring. The water cycle consists of the many paths that water takes as it moves on, under, and above the earth’s surface.

Click on the labels of the water cycle below for a refresher on how water moves.

Water Cylce
PrecipitationCondensationEvaporationSurface WaterPercolationGround Water


Water falling, in a liquid or solid state, from the atmosphere to Earth (e.g., rain, snow).


The process by which a vapor becomes a liquid; the opposite of evaporation.


The conversion of a liquid (e.g., water) into a vapor (a gaseous state) usually through the application of heat energy; the opposite of condensation.

Surface Water

Water above the surface of the land, including lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, floodwater and runoff.


The movement of ground water down through open pores in the soil and underlying rock by the forces of gravity.

Ground Water

Water found in spaces between soil particles underground.

The urban water cycle helps supply water to many locations within a city, including Mister Car Wash! Water is first taken from a source, such as a river or groundwater, and treated for safety. Then, miles of pipes carry water to different buildings. After water is used, other pipes carry it to a wastewater treatment plant, where it is cleaned before being reused or returned to the source.

Mister Car Wash's science of cleaning helps us reduce freshwater usage by an average of 11% and recycle 33% of water, on average, during the wash process and reduce usage by optimizing water flows and storage. When water can’t be reused, it goes through a process that removes grit and heavy sediments, balances pH, and is oxygenated to help breakdown bacteria and reduce odor, before being sent back into the city system.


How is wastewater treated and reused?

waterWhen wastewater arrives at your city's wastewater treatment plant, it is typically treated through five major steps. The first four steps are all designed to filter waste from water in various ways. The fifth and final step uses disinfection to kill anything that might still remain.

Wastewater Treatment
FiltrationSettling TanksSludge RemovalUV TreatmentFine Filtration


Wastewater flows through screens to remove large objects, waste particles and grit.

Settling Tanks

Wastewater flows into settling tanks where it sits still so more waste either settles to the bottom or floats to the top to be removed.

Sludge Removal

Naturally occurring microorganisms eat or consume organic material (like scraps of food or human waste). Once they consume organic material, they are heavy enough to sink to the bottom of the tank and form sludge, which is removed.

Fine Filtration

More filtration through finer and finer filters ensures that almost no contaminants remain in the wastewater.

UV Treatment

The final step is the use of chemicals or ultraviolet (UV) light to kill any organisms that might be remaining in the water before it is returned to the environment.