Water Use and Conservation in Manufacturing: Evidence from U.S. Microdata

37 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2016

See all articles by Randy A. Becker

Randy A. Becker

U.S. Census Bureau - Center for Economic Studies

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 1, 2016


Water can be a scarce resource, particularly in certain places at certain times. Understanding both water use and conservation efforts can help ensure that limited supplies can meet the demands of a growing population and economy. This paper examines water use and recirculation in the U.S. manufacturing sector, using newly recovered microdata from the Survey of Water Use in Manufacturing, merged with establishment-level data from the Annual Survey of Manufactures and the Census of Manufactures. Results suggest that water use per unit of output is largest for larger establishments, in part because larger establishments use water for more purposes. Larger establishments are also found to recirculate water more – satisfying demand (water use) without necessarily increasing water intake. Various costs also appear to play a role in water recirculation. In particular, the water circulation rate is found to be higher when water is purchased from a utility. Relatively low (internal) prices for self-supplied water could suppress the incentive to invest in recirculation. Meanwhile, establishments with higher per-gallon intake treatment costs also recirculate more, as might be expected. The cost associated with water discharge – due to regulation or otherwise – also increases circulation rates. The aridity of a locale is found to have little effect on circulation rates.

Keywords: water use, water recirculation, U.S. manufacturing

JEL Classification: Q25, L6

Suggested Citation

Becker, Randy A., Water Use and Conservation in Manufacturing: Evidence from U.S. Microdata (June 1, 2016). US Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies Paper No. CES-WP-15-16R, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2806998 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2806998

Randy A. Becker (Contact Author)

U.S. Census Bureau - Center for Economic Studies ( email )

4600 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233
United States

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