Industrial water refers to the water used in manufacturing processes including fabrication, washing, cooling, and sanitation.
Just about every industry uses water in some part of the manufacturing process, from fabrication to washing, to cooling, and even sanitation. The water entering the plant will often need to be treated. The treatment process will depend on the specific industrial processes uses and quality specifications that must be adhered to.
Food, paper, and chemical manufacturers and petroleum refineries are some of the most significant users of industrial water. However, medical and pharmaceutical manufacturers also have very specific requirements regarding the water used in their processes.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Louisiana is the state that uses the most substantial amount of freshwater per day for industrial usage,with most of it employed in the state’s chemical and paper industries.
The North American Environmental Atlas however, claims that industrial water use is on the decline in the United States, with high-income countries using 59 percent of their water for industrial use and low-income countries using just 8 percent for such purpose.
The question to ask ourselves is, where does all that water go after industries use it? According to the United Nations’ World Water Development Report, the water used for industrial purposes, along with tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge, and other accumulated waste, often gets put back into the freshwater supplies. In some developing countries for example, 70 percent of all industrial waste gets dumped untreated into streams and rivers, producing irreversible damage to the flora and fauna living in the disposal areas.
This practice has long been a major environmental issue in the U.S., but numerous awareness campaigns and regulations are helping to minimize the problem and the negative impact it has on the local communities and ecosystems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established strict guidelines issued under the Clean Water Act to prevent over 700 million pounds of pollutants from being discharged into U.S. waters each year.