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Image of a man using water in the laboratory for an experiment

Potable water comprises only a small fraction of the total use of water in the United States, with the main uses of freshwater resources being agricultural (for example, irrigation, animal feeding operations) and industrial (for example, cooling towers) activities 1. These activities, in addition to medical ones (for example, hemodialysis, dental procedures), are commonly referred to as “other uses” of water.

Other Uses of Water Topics


Types, Contamination, Animal Feeding Operations, Resources...


Hydrotherapy tanks, Dialysis, Medical/Dental equipment...


Freshwater quality, Cooling Towers, Legionnaire’s disease...

Other Uses of Water Fast Facts


Agricultural Uses of Water


The Many Uses of Water

Photo of the machinery

Water can be used for direct and indirect purposes. Direct purposes include bathing, drinking, and cooking, while examples of indirect purposes are the use of water in processing wood to make paper and in producing steel for automobiles. The bulk of the world’s water use is for agriculture, industry, and electricity. The most common water uses include:

  1. United States Geological Survey. Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2000: Total Water Use.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Legionellosis Resource Site: Patient Facts – Learn more about Legionnaires’ disease.
  3. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Effluent Limitation Guidelines.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
  5. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Protecting Water Quality from Agricultural Runoff. March 2005.

*1971-2010; Ordered from highest to lowest frequency (i.e., #1 is the most-commonly reported etiology). Only confirmed etiologies in source databases have been included the analyses. For outbreaks with multiple etiologies or settings, each etiologic agent and setting has been counted towards the total.

**1971-2010; top settings associated with outbreaks classified as using "water not intended for drinking".

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