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American industry's thirst for water: First study of its kind in 30 years

Date:
April 12, 2010
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
How many gallons of water does it take to produce $1 worth of sugar, dog and cat food, or milk? The answers appear in the first comprehensive study in 30 years documenting American industry's thirst for this precious resource. The study could lead to better ways to conserve water.

How many gallons of water does it take to produce $1 worth of sugar, dog and cat food, or milk? The answers appear in the first comprehensive study in 30 years documenting American industry's thirst for this precious resource.

The study, which could lead to better ways to conserve water, is in ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.

Chris Hendrickson and colleagues note in the new study that industry (including agriculture) long has been recognized as the biggest consumer of water in the United States. However, estimates of water consumption on an industry-by-industry basis are incomplete and outdated, with the last figures from the U.S. Census Bureau dating to 1982.

They estimated water use among more than 400 industry sectors -- from finished products to services -- using a special computer model. The new data shows that most water use by industry occurs indirectly as a result of processing, such as packaging and shipping food crops to the supermarket, rather than direct use, such as watering crops. Among the findings for consumer products: It takes almost 270 gallons of water to produce $1 worth of sugar; 200 gallons of water to make $1 worth of dog and cat food; and 140 gallons of water to make $1 worth of milk.

"The study gives a way to look at how we might use water more efficiently and allows us to hone in on the sectors that use the most water so we can start generating ideas and technologies for better management," the scientists note.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael Blackhurst, Chris Hendrickson, Jordi Sels i Vidal. Direct and Indirect Water Withdrawals for U.S. Industrial Sectors. Environmental Science & Technology, 2010; 44 (6): 2126 DOI: 10.1021/es903147k

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "American industry's thirst for water: First study of its kind in 30 years." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100331122646.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2010, April 12). American industry's thirst for water: First study of its kind in 30 years. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100331122646.htm
American Chemical Society. "American industry's thirst for water: First study of its kind in 30 years." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100331122646.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

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