US Water Use Volumes to Contract 5.1% in 2020


Cleveland, OH, February 16, 2021  — Water use in the US is forecast to decline 1.1% per year in volume terms through 2024, according to Water: United States, a report recently released by Freedonia Focus Reports. The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 is expected to reduce water use in power generation and manufacturing establishments due to the contraction in manufacturing shipments and electricity generation. US water use is expected to see a 5.1% annual drop from 2019 levels. Water use in utilities is expected to fall 5.5%, and use in manufacturing and mining will fall 6.2%. The economic downturn associated with the pandemic is forecast to cause a 7.7% decline in real (inflation-adjusted) manufacturing shipments in 2020. While water use in the municipal, manufacturing, and mining markets is expected to grow after 2020, gains are not expected to entirely offset declines.

US water withdrawal is forecast to decline of 1.1% annually in volume terms through 2024. Withdrawals will fall due to increases in water reclamation driven by factors such as supply constraints (e.g., drought), improved irrigation efficiency, and regulatory limitations on wastewater effluents. Agriculture will continue to represent a major market for withdrawal, as the vast majority of water diverted for this purpose is not reclaimed; water applied to fields as irrigation or supplied to livestock as hydration is generally lost to the environment due to factors such as evaporative loss and the lack of a viable infrastructure for recovery.

These and other key insights are featured in Water: United States. This report forecasts to 2020 and 2024 US water use and withdrawal in gallons. Total water use is segmented by market in terms of:

  • utilities
  • manufacturing and mining
  • municipal

Total water withdrawal is segmented by market as follows:

  • agriculture
  • other markets such as utilities and manufacturing

To illustrate historical trends, water use, water withdrawals, and the various segments are provided in annual series from 2009 to 2019.

For the purposes of this report, water use encompasses water withdrawals from surface and groundwater sources and includes reclaimed wastewater. Trends and forecasts related to water use apply to water that has been treated to some appreciable degree and do not include water used in agricultural applications. Water withdrawal totals refer to water from surface and groundwater sources, excluding reclaimed wastewater. The municipal segment excludes water withdrawn from wells on residential properties.

This report features the results of the Freedonia Focus Reports proprietary national consumer survey, including COVID impact analysis.

More information about the report is available at: