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Industrial Water Survey, 2020

Released: 2023-01-16

Thermal-electric power producers continued to be Canada's largest industrial user of water in 2020, a trend observed since 2005, which was the first year the survey was collected.

Estimates produced by the Industrial Water Survey indicated that the three main industry sectors covered by the survey had a total water intake of 27.2 billion cubic metres in 2020, down 1.4% from 2017 (the previous year for which data are available). Power producers accounted for 84.4% of this total, followed by manufacturers (14.0%) and, in third place, the mining sector (1.7%).

Among manufacturers, five industries accounted for almost 95% of the manufacturing sector's water intake in 2020. They were the paper, primary metals, chemicals, food and petroleum, and coal product industries.

For industrial water users, self-supplied surface water continued to be the main water intake source, accounting for 88% of all water intake. The vast majority of water intake was returned to the source of the water supply after being used for industrial processes.

Prior to discharge, these same industries recirculated 18.2 billion cubic metres of water, a decrease of 15.5% compared with 2017. The thermal-electric power producers accounted for 85.2% of this total, manufacturing industries comprised 12.6%, and mining industries the remaining 2.2%.

  Note to readers

The 2020 Industrial Water Survey gathered information on the intake and discharge of water by three sectors: manufacturing, mining and thermal-electric generating industries. It collected information on sources of water, purposes for which the water was used, whether water was recirculated or reused, where the water was discharged and what treatments were used. It also collected information on water acquisition costs, treatment costs and operating and maintenance expenses related to water intake and discharge.

Contact information

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