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Intake water – Source, purpose and treatment
Total water intake by Canadian manufacturing industries in 2011 was 3,677.5 million cubic metres. As indicated in Chart 1, five industries accounted for almost 95% of the 2011 intake. The largest quantity of water withdrawn was by the paper industries, at 36.0% of the total. This was followed by the primary metals industries at 29.3% and the chemical industries at 12.3% of the total water intake by manufacturing industries. The food industries accounted for 9.4% of water withdrawals and the petroleum and coal industries, another 7.9%.
Geographically, manufacturers located in Ontario and Quebec accounted for most of the water intake, with Ontario taking 40.7% of the total and Quebec responsible for another 23.1% of the total. British Columbia manufacturers took a 17.8% share of the total intake and Alberta was responsible for 5.6%. When the results are aggregated by drainage region (Map 1), 53.7% of water intake was derived from the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basins. The Pacific Coastal basin and the Fraser – Lower Mainland basin combined for 12.8% of the total water intake.
Self-supplied surface freshwater (lakes, rivers, etc.) was the source of 76.8% of manufacturers’ water supply and 12.4% came from public utilities (that also tend to source from surface freshwater). The paper industries accounted for 39.9% of the surface freshwater withdrawals and the primary metals industries took another 35.7%. The food industry took 30.7% of the water from public utilities, followed by the paper industries that took another 24.4%.
Geographically, 46.6% of the surface freshwater taken by manufacturers occurred in Ontario and 23.8% was taken in Quebec. British Columbia accounted for another 17.3%. Quebec manufacturers were responsible for 34.3% of the water intake from public utilities and Ontario took 32.4% of the total. Similar results are also reflected by drainage region where 59.1% of manufacturers’ withdrawals from public utilities occurred in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence drainage regions and 58.6% of the surface freshwater withdrawn also came from those drainage regions.
The major purposes of the initial use of water by manufacturers are for process (45.7% of total intake) and for cooling, condensing and steam (45.2% of the total). The paper industries used 72.9% of their water intake for processing while the primary metals industries used 55.0% of their water intake for cooling, condensing and steam.
Many manufacturing establishments need to treat their water before it can be used in their processes or for cooling, condensing or steam generation. Often they must use several treatment processes, such as screening, followed by filtration and chlorination, prior to using the water. This can result in the same intake water being counted several times if it has been used in several treatment processes, which must be kept in mind when examining Table 6.
In this survey, water recirculation is defined as the process of using the same water more than once by the facility. The water must leave a system or sub-system and re-enter it or be used in a different sub-system. The recirculation of water reduces the need for the facility to take in “new” water.
The 2011 survey indicates 1,870.0 million cubic metres of water was reported as recirculated water. The primary metals industry accounted for 49.8% of this volume of recirculated water. The paper industries reported recirculation volumes representing 32.0% of the total.
The recirculation rate for manufacturing (recirculated water as a percentage of intake) stood at 50.9%. The primary metals industry indicated a recirculation rate of 86.5%.
Wastewater – Treatments and points of discharge
Total water discharged by the manufacturing industries was 3,226.8 million cubic metres. Most of this water (76.6%) was discharged to surface freshwater bodies and to tidewater (13.0%). The balance was discharged to public/municipal sewers, groundwater or other points.
Respondents were asked to report only the highest level of treatment their discharge underwent. This was done in order to eliminate double-counting of water that underwent more than one treatment type and to highlight the most advanced treatment. Of the water discharged by manufacturers, 34.0% was not treated before being released. The most advanced level of treatment for 17.9% of the total discharge was primary treatment while 36.2% of the total effluent underwent secondary or biological treatment as its highest level of treatment before discharge. Only 12.0% underwent tertiary or advanced treatment.
The paper industries accounted for 39.7% of the total water discharged by manufacturers and 80.9% of their discharge went to surface freshwater bodies. The paper industries put 79.5% of their water discharge through secondary or biological treatment. The primary metals industries were responsible for 28.1% of the total water discharged by manufacturers with surface freshwater bodies the destination for 95.3% of their discharge. Just under half of their discharge (43.5%) went untreated with 17.0% undergoing primary or mechanical treatment while the remaining 39.4% underwent secondary or biological treatment or tertiary or advanced treatment.
Distribution of water discharge by geographic location reflects a similar trend as water intake in that the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence drainage regions not only saw the largest water withdrawals, but also the largest discharges.
Water consumption (intake minus discharge) provides an indication of the amount of water lost during production, most commonly through the incorporation of water into the products or through evaporation. The consumption rate expresses this consumption as a percentage of water intake.
In 2011, water consumption for manufacturing industries was estimated at 450.7 million cubic metres or 12.3% of the total water intake of 3,677.5 million cubic metres. Of this total water consumption, the primary metals industries were the largest consumers of water, consuming 169.5 million cubic metres or 37.6% of the total consumed water. The chemicals industries were the next largest consumers of water at 133.1 million cubic metres or 29.5% of the total consumed water.
The Industrial Water Survey collected cost information on the acquisition of water, on the treatment of intake water before use, on wastewater treatments and on costs related to the recirculation of water. Excluded from the determination of water costs were capital costs or depreciation of self-supplied water acquisition facilities. The costs of water acquisition were defined to include amounts paid to public utilities for water, amounts paid to provincial or territorial ministries for a licence to take water and for operation and maintenance costs incurred in the upkeep of self-supplied water acquisition facilities. The cost of wastewater treatment was defined as the operation and maintenance costs of in-house treatment, though it may include sewer surcharges by the public utilities.
Total water costs in the manufacturing industries in 2011 were $1,046.8 million. As indicated in Chart 2, costs for the treatment of effluent accounted for 37.6% of the total costs while treatment of intake water before it was used represented another 16.3% of total costs. Costs related to the acquisition of water were 36.5% of total costs and costs related to the recirculation of water were another 9.6% of the total.
The cost of water acquisition in 2011 was $382.4 million. The largest portion of the acquisition costs was payments to public utilities, which accounted for 80.8% of the total costs. Payments for operation and maintenance costs were responsible for another 18.3% of the total acquisition costs while licensing fees contributed only 0.9% of the total.
At the national level, water acquisition was responsible for 36.5% of the total water costs. However, acquisition costs in Ontario accounted for 48.6% of total water costs in that province.
Costs for treatment of intake water before it was used totalled $170.3 million. Just over 85% of these costs were borne by five industries, with the chemicals industries paying 29.0% of the total, paper industries at 25.6%, primary metals industries at 11.8%, food industries at 9.9% and petroleum and coal industries spending 8.9%.
The costs related to the recirculation of water were $100.4 million in 2011. The primary metals industries spent $40.4 million on the recirculation of water and the paper industries spent $20.2 million.
The total 2011 cost of wastewater treatment was $393.8 million. Of this total, the paper industries spent $164.5 million or 41.8%. The food industries spent $67.0 million or 17.0% of the total and the chemical industries accounted for $55.2 million or 14.0% of the total spent on the treatment of water discharge. The primary metals industries spent $51.1 million or 13.0% of the total.
Total water intake by the mining industries surveyed in 2011 was 429.2 million cubic metres. Most of this water (60.6%) was withdrawn by the metal mines. The amount of water recirculated by the mining industries was 465.1 million cubic metres, which when combined with the volume of water intake, resulted in gross water use of 894.3 million cubic metres. The recirculation rate of water in 2011 was 108.4%. The total volume of water discharged by the mining industries surveyed in 2011 was 587.9 million cubic metres. The discharge volumes were higher than the intake volumes of water due to the necessity of many operators to de-water their mines of groundwater in order to carry out their operations. This “mine water” amounted to 160.6 million cubic metres in 2011.
The source for most water withdrawn by the mining industries (68.8%) was self-supplied surface freshwater (i.e, rivers, lakes). Process water was the major use for water in the mining industries, accounting for 76.6% of the total intake. Another 9.4% was used for cooling, condensing and steam. Almost all water recirculated (90.8%) by the mining industry was used for process activities.
In the same way that most water intake was sourced from surface freshwater, most wastewater discharge (73.4%) was returned to surface freshwater. Another 7.8% was discharged to tailing ponds while 6.0% was discharged to groundwater. Most of the discharge to tailing ponds was made by metal mines. Of the total 587.9 million cubic metres of water discharged by mining operations, 43.8% was not treated before discharge and 47.6% underwent primary or mechanical treatment.
Total costs related to water use in the mining industries in 2011 was $168.6 million dollars. Costs for the treatment of effluent accounted for 52.0% of the total costs while treatment of intake water before it was used represented another 6.7% of total costs. Costs related to the acquisition of water were 15.3% of total costs and costs related to the recirculation of water were another 25.9% of the total.
Thermal-electric power producers
Producers of thermal-electric power were the largest users of water in the industrial sectors covered by this survey, with almost all of the water (98.4%) used for cooling, condensing and steam. Total water intake by this industry was 23,497.2 million cubic metres. The volume of water recirculated in this industry was 3,711.9 million cubic metres, which when combined with water withdrawals equal gross water use of 27,209.1 million cubic metres. Total discharge of water was 23,082.6 million cubic metres, of which 94.1% went to surface freshwater bodies. Just over half of this water (57.9%) was not treated before discharge.
Total costs of water for the thermal-electric power generators were $164.8 million. Costs related to the acquisition of water accounted for 49.0% of the total water costs. Included in these acquisition costs are payments to public utilities, operation and maintenance costs related to acquiring water and licencing or permit fees required to acquire water. Costs related to the treatment of intake water accounted for 32.7% of the total costs and costs related to the recirculation of water accounted for 12.9%. The remaining 5.4% of costs were attributable to the discharge of water.