Industrial Water Use Study

Industrial Water Use Study:

Conservation Efforts Making a Difference

One Hundred Miles, in partnership with the Georgia Water Coalition, released a study and addendum that confirms coastal industrial water withdrawals are trending down thanks to conservation actions implemented by industrial users.

The study was conducted by the Savannah-based Ecological Planning Group, now GMC, using publicly available water withdrawal data and reports. The researchers analyzed water used by all thirty industries that hold water withdrawal permits in the 24-county coastal Georgia region. They also evaluated conservation reports filed at the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) by the four largest water-using industries on the coast and the water use forecasting that the EPD uses to guide future water management and permitting.

“Saltwater has been infiltrating the Floridan Aquifer because of intensive historic groundwater withdrawals in Brunswick and Chatham County,” says Megan Desrosiers, President and CEO of One Hundred Miles. “We knew conservation investments had been made, but we didn’t know if they were making a difference. This study shows that investments in water conservation by the large industrial users have the potential to sustain our aquifer.”

Alice M. Keyes, Vice President of Coastal Conservation at One Hundred Miles and the manager of the project, adds “The public knows very little about the high-profile industrial operations on our coast. By taking a deep look into the conservation plans of some the largest water users on the coast, we found that since 2005, investments in efficiencies have resulted in significant reductions in withdrawals, especially in areas where water supplies are limited.”

The study results were used in the Georgia Coast Collaborative’s Coastal Resource Asset Barometer (“CRAB”) to share what the data tell us about how industries are using shared groundwater resources.

Some of the study’s findings include:

  • Collectively, industries located in Chatham and Effingham Counties and Glynn and Liberty Counties demonstrated statistically significant reductions in water withdrawals over four 3-year time periods, between 2005 and 2016, with a slight uptick in 2017 and 2018.
  • Georgia Pacific’s Brunswick Cellulose Plant in Glynn County had the largest reductions when calculating the net change in water withdrawals from 2005 to 2016. In that time, Brunswick Cellulose reduced water use by 8.35 million gallons a day (MGD) from groundwater sources and 22.58 MGD from surface water sources, for a total savings of 30.93 MGD.
  • The study offers the EPD an updated forecast of future industrial water use. The updated forecast uses recent withdrawal data and accounts for reductions in withdrawals that resulted from the investments in more efficient industrial operations and equipment.

One Hundred Miles is celebrating the study’s evidence of successful conservation investments and hopes it encourages more industries to invest in efficient procedures and equipment. One Hundred Miles is discussing with EPD how to update the regional water use forecasts and utilize accurate information in all planning exercises that affect public resources.

“All of us who live and work on the Georgia coast, as well as all who come after us, are dependent on healthy water supplies,” says Desrosiers. “We look forward to more partnerships that can encourage all coastal neighbors to continue progress toward more efficient operations that can sustain our critical water supplies.”

Learn More:

For more information, contact Alice M. Keyes.

Click here  for the initial 2017 study report

Click here for the 2019 Addendum with updated data and results.

Click here for the Georgia Coast Collaborative CRAB analyses.