Southeast Freshwater Withdrawals, By Use Category, 2000
Nearly 40 billion gallons are withdrawn each day from Southeast
freshwater supplies for thermoelectric power plants--about 65
percent of all withdrawals. To put this in perspective,
this is nearly equal to the total daily freshwater withdrawals
for public supply across the entire United States.
This water is needed for cooling purposes at power plants that
use coal, oil, gas, nuclear, or biomass fuels to generate heat and
produce electricity. Depending on the cooling methods, a portion
of this water is consumed (lost to the atmosphere through
evaporation). Over the course of a year, thermoelectric power
plants in the Southeast consume nearly 140 billion gallons as
a result of evaporation losses—equal to the annual water use
of more than 1 million homes.