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Definitions of Water Use

The term Water Use can have many different meanings. Each company should clarify how it uses different terms related to water use.

Water withdrawal typically refers to water that is removed from a source and used for human need. It is occasionally termed water throughput. This definition includes water that may be returned to the source. Withdrawn water may not be actually consumed.

Water consumption commonly refers to the portion of water withdrawals that are not returned to the same source or not able to be reused in the local area. This includes water used as a product ingredient, water lost to evaporation and seepage, or water that is otherwise transformed or contaminated.

Gross Water Use is the total of all water used by a company, including reused or recirculated water.

Some companies, such as DuPont, have opted to count all water withdrawn from public water systems as "consumed", even if it is returned to local surface waters, since the water has been displaced from one source to another. For more information on measuring water use, see the "Metrics" resource in Module 5.


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