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Water use

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Reducing pressure on quality water

Source: regional administrations (DGOARNE, VMM), DG Statistics

Water is essential for all forms of life on earth. Only one-millionth of all the world’s water is fit for human use in its natural state. Conservation of this precious natural resource, or ‘blue gold’, begins with its reasonable use.

The chemicals and life sciences industry is an important industrial water user. In 2019, the sector used 851 million m³ of water in total.

89% of that water use is surface water used mainly as a coolant for industrial processes. Cooling water is returned to the source of the surface water warmer than it was before being used. Since it is returned to the surface water, it is not accounted for in the use of quality water graph

Water may also be used as a raw material, as a cleaning agent or to purify atmospheric emissions. Potentially polluted industrial wastewater is only discharged after being purified in wastewater treatment plants on site.

The industry invests in reducing the pressure on quality water sources by closing water circuits and by switching to surface water instead of drinking or groundwater where possible. In 2019, drinking water accounted for only 6% of the total water used by the sector and groundwater for just 1.6%.

The chemical and life sciences industry is aware of the impact climate change may have on water availability and thus takes mitigating measures to adapt to this issue and increase the preparedness of companies in case of water stress.