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.
2010 Water Use
(source: Maupin, M.A., Kenny, J.F., Hutson, S.S., Lovelace, J.K., Barber, N.L., and Linsey, K.S., 2014, Estimated use of water in the United States in 2010: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1405, 56 p., https://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1405/.)
Industrial withdrawals were an estimated 15,900 Mgal/d in 2010, about 4 percent of total withdrawals for all categories of use. Surface water was the source for 82 percent of total industrial withdrawals.
Total industrial withdrawals decreased 12 percent between 2005 and 2010, continuing the decline shown each period since 1985. Declines in industrial withdrawals reflects greater efficiencies 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. The larger decline in industrial withdrawals from 2005 to 2010 may be due in part to lower industrial production in the major water-using industries of wood products, primary metals, paper, and chemicals, all of which had lower production following the 2008 U.S. recession.
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. Industrial withdrawals also were estimated using industry-group employment data and per employee water-use coefficients. For 2010, a notable improvement from historical estimation methods include additional facility information provided to each USGS Water Science Center that included information about the type of business, number of employees, and the location of the facilities, as well as economic indicators of the size of the business.