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Do you wear contact lenses? If so, you most likely use a saline water solution to clean them. But what else do we use saline water for and do we really use that much? Read on to learn all about the use of saline water.
• Water Science School HOME • Water Use topics •
In today's world we are all more aware of the need to conserve freshwater. With the ever-growing demand for water by growing populations worldwide, it makes sense to try to find more uses for the abundant saline water supplies that exist, mainly in the oceans. As these pie charts of the Nation's water use show, about 16 percent of all water used in the United States in 2015 was saline. (All 2015 water use information is from the report Estimated use of water in the United States in 2015.) The second chart shows that almost all saline withdrawals, over 97 percent, were used by the thermoelectric-power industry to cool electricity-generating equipment.
Water that is saline contains significant amounts (referred to as "concentrations") of dissolved salts, the most common being the salt we all know so well—sodium chloride (NaCl). In this case, the concentration is the amount (by weight) of salt in water, as expressed in "parts per million" (ppm). If water has a concentration of 10,000 ppm of dissolved salts, then one percent (10,000 divided by 1,000,000) of the weight of the water comes from dissolved salts.
Here are the USGS definitions for different concentration classes of saline water:
Florida had the largest saline withdrawals, accounting for approximately 23 percent of the total in the United States, mostly saline surface-water withdrawals for thermoelectric power. Oklahoma and Texas accounted for about 50 percent of the total saline groundwater withdrawals in the United States, mostly for mining.
As our trends chart shows, the use of saline water, and freshwater, also, has been trending downward since peaking in 1980. Of interest, from 1950 to 1975 the use of saline water increased at a much higher rate than freshwater use.
Water withdrawals for the United States, 1950-2010. Data are in billion gallons per day (Bgal/d)
Data for freshwater withdrawals for 1980-2000 have been revised from original published values
Want to learn more about saline water use in the United States? Follow me to the USGS Water Use in the United States website!
Below are other science topics associated with saline water use.
Below are multimedia items associated with saline water use.
Below are publications associated with saline water use.