Water Use in the United States
Industrial Water Use
Cellulose plant, Brunswick, Georgia
Industrial withdrawals provide water for such purposes as fabricating, processing, washing, diluting, cooling, or transporting a product; incorporating water into a product; or for sanitation needs within the manufacturing facility. Some industries that use large amounts of water produce such commodities as food, paper, chemicals, refined petroleum, or primary metals. Water for industrial use may be delivered from a public supplier or be self supplied.
2015 Water Use
(source: Dieter, C.A., Maupin, M.A., Caldwell, R.R., Harris, M.A., Ivahnenko, T.I., Lovelace, J.K., Barber, N.L., and Linsey, K.S., 2018, Estimated use of water in the United States in 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1441, 65 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1441.)
Industrial withdrawals were an estimated 14,800 Mgal/d in 2015, about 5 percent of total withdrawals for all categories of use. Surface water was the source for 82 percent of total industrial withdrawals.
Since 1985, self-supplied industrial withdrawals have consistently declined and are 2015 estimates are about 43 percent less than 1985. Declines in self-supplied industrial water withdrawals between 1985 and 2015 can likely be linked to a number of changes in factors in the United States economy, such as the decline in manufacturing and increases in the service sector. In addition to changes in the United States economy, declines in self-supplied industrial withdrawals reflect greater effciencies in industrial processes and an emphasis on water reuse and recycling within industrial facilities, both driven by environmental regulations and limited availability of freshwater resources in some areas.
Sources of data for industrial withdrawals included information obtained directly from facilities or State and Federal permit programs that require reporting of industrial withdrawals or return flows, where available. Industrial withdrawals also were estimated using industry-group employment data and per employee water-use coefficients.