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Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5096

National Water Availability and Use Program

Variations in Withdrawal, Return Flow, and Consumptive Use of Water in Ohio and Indiana, with Selected Data from Wisconsin, 1999–2004

By Kimberly H. Shaffer


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This report contains an analysis of water withdrawal and return-flow data for Ohio and withdrawal data for Indiana and Wisconsin to compute consumptive-use coefficients and to describe monthly variability of withdrawals and consumptive use. Concurrent data were available for most water-use categories from 1999 through 2004. Average monthly water withdrawals are discussed for a variety of water-use categories, and average water use per month is depicted graphically for Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin (public supply only).

For most water-use categories, the summer months were those of highest withdrawal and highest consumptive use. For public supply, average monthly withdrawals ranged from 1,380 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) (November) to 1,620 Mgal/d (July) in Ohio, 621 Mgal/d (December) to 816 Mgal/d (July) in Indiana, and 515 Mgal/d (December) to 694 Mgal/d (July) in Wisconsin. Ohio and Indiana thermoelectric facilities had large increases in average monthly withdrawals in the summer months (5,520 Mgal/d in March to 7,510 Mgal/d in August for Indiana; 7,380 Mgal/d in February to 10,040 Mgal/d in July for Ohio), possibly because of increased electricity production in the summer, a need for additional cooling-water withdrawals when intake-water temperature is high, or use of different types of cooling methods during different times of the year. Average industrial withdrawals ranged from 2,220 Mgal/d (December) to 2,620 Mgal/d (August) in Indiana and from 707 Mgal/d (January) to 787 Mgal/d (August) in Ohio. The Ohio and Indiana irrigation data showed that most withdrawals were in May through October for golf courses, nurseries, and crop irrigation. Commercial water withdrawals ranged from 30.4 Mgal/d (January) to 65.0 Mgal/d (September) in Indiana and from 23.2 Mgal/d (November) to 49.5 Mgal/d (August) in Ohio; commercial facilities that have high water demand in Ohio and Indiana are medical facilities, schools, amusement facilities, wildlife facilities, large stores, colleges, correctional institutions, and national security facilities. Monthly livestock withdrawals were constant for Ohio but were more variable in Indiana and depended on whether the livestock facility operated on a seasonal schedule. Aquaculture withdrawals appeared to correlate with growing seasons and with aeration of ponds during the winter months. Mining withdrawals—specifically, those for nonmetallic mining—tended to be highest in April and may be related to dewatering.

Consumptive use and consumptive-use coefficients were computed by two principal methods in this study: the return-flow and withdrawal method (RW; Ohio only) and the winter-base-rate method (WBR; Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin). The WBR method was not suitable for the thermoelectric, industrial, irrigation, livestock, aquaculture, and mining water-use categories. The RW method was not used for public-supply facilities. A third method, the Standard Industrial Classification code method (SIC), was used only for certain industrial facilities. The public-supply annual average consumptive-use coefficient derived by use of the WBR methods ranged from 6 to 8 percent among Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin; the summer average consumptive-use coefficient was considerably higher, ranging from 16 to 20 percent. The commercial annual consumptive-use coefficient for both Ohio and Indiana was 30 percent by the WBR method, which fell within the Ohio annual median (17 percent) and annual average (42 percent) by the RW method. Thermoelectric consumptive use differs greatly by the type of cooling the facility uses; the Ohio annual median consumptive-use coefficient (RW method) was 2 percent for all thermoelectric facilities and facilities with multiple types of cooling, but exclusively once-through-cooling facilities had a median of 0 percent and exclusively closed-loop-cooling facilities had a median of 25 percent. Industrial consumptive-use coefficients varied by type of industry, as reflected by SIC code; overall, the median annual consumptive-use coefficient for Ohio was 10 percent by the RW method and 11 percent for Indiana and 12 percent for Ohio by the SIC code method. Irrigation consumptive-use coefficients were computed for Ohio golf course irrigation (annual median of 77 percent) and nursery and crop irrigation (annual median of 78 percent), but the number of records available for analysis represented only a small proportion of the total number of facilities. The RW method was also used for livestock, aquaculture, and mining water-use categories—but again, only relatively few records were available; the Ohio median annual consumptive-use coefficient for livestock was 76 percent (18 records), for aquaculture was 0 percent (33 records), and for mining was 10 percent (418 records).

In terms of maximum accuracy and minimal uncertainty, use of available withdrawal, return-flow, and consumptive-use data reported by facilities and data estimated from similar facilities are preferable over estimates based on data for a particular water-use category or groups of water-use categories. If monthly withdrawal, return flow, and consumptive use data are few and limited, monthly patterns described in this report may be used as a basis of estimation, but the level of uncertainty may be a greater than for the other estimation methods.

First posted September 4, 2009

For additional information contact:
Chief, Great Lakes Basin Pilot Project, National Water Availability and Use Program
U.S. Geological Survey
6520 Mercantile Way, Suite 5
Lansing, MI 48911-5991

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Suggested citation:

Shaffer, K.H., 2009, Variations in withdrawal, return flow, and consumptive use of water in Ohio and Indiana, with selected data from Wisconsin, 1999–2004: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5096, 93 p.




Purpose and Scope

Consumptive Use

Methods and Data Requirements

Analysis of Variation in Monthly Water Withdrawals, Return Flow, and Consumptive Use




Public Supply

Thermoelectric Power






Summary and Conclusions


References Cited


Appendixes 1–3

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