The manufacturing sector accounted for approximately 5–6% of total U.S. water use in 2015. Of that amount, 75–80% is self supplied withdrawal from surface-water and groundwater sources and the remainder is from public water supplies. Although manufacturing facilities commonly locate in water-scarce areas, water scarcity still poses a great risk to the manufacturing sector. Reliable water is necessary for any facility that relies on it for process and comfort cooling, cleaning, employee use, and steam generation. One of these barriers to water efficiency is the lack of reliable data on overall U.S. industrial water use—how it is used and the quantities required for each sector. If a facility cannot be easily compared with a facility of similar size and sector, knowing if it is effectively using water conservation best practices is difficult.
One potential source of industrial water use data is the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)–sponsored Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs). IACs are university-based organizations that provide free audits to small- and medium-sized manufacturing facilities to identify productivity improvement and waste and energy reduction opportunities. The IACs also maintain a database of all the audits conducted, which currently holds more than 19,267 assessments and 145,000 recommendations (as of July 24, 2020). This database also contains energy utility (electricity, natural gas, and other fuels) and water utility data, making it a potential data source for industrial water use.
This report attempts to create regression models to predict a small- or medium-sized industrial facility’s annual water use or cost based on its industrial subsector and several possible relevant variables. Using data collected by IAC assessments, models for several industrial subsectors were generated via stepwise regression techniques to determine which variables (annual sales, number of employees, facility/plant area, annual production hours, and a water stress metric) are relevant.