Industry and Hydropower
Aside from agricultural and domestic use, water is used to manufacture goods, generate electricity, and mine materials we use in our everyday lives. Some of these processes are consumptive, meaning they use the water up, while others use recirculation systems that allow water to be used over and over, as is the case in many cooling systems. Inevitably, some water will be lost in all processes due to evaporation or leakage.
Mining accounts for roughly 1% of total water withdrawls. This water is used to extract solids such as coal, gravel, iron, and sand. Water is also used to extract liquids such as raw crude oil and gases, like natural gas. Some of these processes include quarrying, injection, and milling of mined materials. Although a substantial amount of this water comes from groundwater, Utah withdraws more saline surface water than any other state due to mining salt from the Great Salt Lake.
Manufacturing accounts for roughly 4% of total water withdrawls. Water in manufacturing is used in processes such as washing, diluting, fabricating, processing, and general sanitation. Some water is actually incorporated into the product, as is the case with food, chemicals, and refined petroleum. In factories that process food or clean sensitive equipment such as medical instruments, water must be free of contaminants. Many of these facilities, however, will have internal cleaning and monitoring protocols.
Thermoelectric power accounts for 45% of total water withdrawls. Thermoelectric power is defined as power generated by converting thermal energy into electric power. Some power plants use once-through systems, whereas others use recirculation systems. In both types, water must be cooled before returning to the river. If water is returned to the nearby river at a temperature too high, it will negatively impact fish and other aquatic organisms. Many organisms have adapted to particular temperatures, therefore, can only handle temperature fluctuations within their respective ranges. Many fish also have specific dissolved oxygen requirements. As water temperature rises, solubility of oxygen decreases.