Overview of Water Use Issues
The Catawba-Wateree basin has finite water resources, but most of us treat water as if there is an infinite supply of water available for our use.
The average Charlotte area resident uses 190 gallons of water from the Catawba River per day per person. However, this is not the biggest use of water. It is a surprise to most people that almost half of the net loss of water from the Catawba River is a result of evaporation from water used to cool powerplants. On average, each kilowatt-hour generated from coal requires 25 gallons of water according to a 2007 report by the federal Sandia National Laboratories. The average U.S. home uses about 8,900 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. Thus, the average household requires 610 gallons of water per day per household for electricity generated from coal (in addition to the 190 gallons per person per day used directly by residents in Charlotte). We can significantly reduce the water lost from cooling powerplants by reducing the amount of electricity we use and by requiring powerplants to use more water-efficient cooling technology.