Anthropogenic water use and reuse represent major components of the water cycle. In the context of climate change, water reuse and recycling are considered necessary components for an integrated water management approach. Unplanned, or de facto, indirect water reuse occurs in most of the U.S. river systems, however, there is little real-time documentation of it. Despite the fact that there are national and state agencies that systematically collect data on water withdrawals and wastewater discharges, their databases are organized and managed in a way that makes it challenging to use them for water resource management analysis. The ability to combine reported water data to perform large scale analysis about water use and reuse is severely limited. In this paper, we apply a simple but effective methodology to complete a time series watershed-scale analysis of water use and unplanned indirect reuse for the Wabash River Watershed. Results document the occurrence of indirect water reuse, ranging from 3% to 134%, in a water-rich area of the U.S. The time series analysis shows that reported data effectively describe the water use trends through nine years, from 2009 to 2017, clearly reflecting both anthropogenic and natural events in the watershed, such as the retirement of thermoelectric power plants, and the occurrence of an extreme drought in 2012. We demonstrate the feasibility and significance of using available water datasets to perform large scale water use analysis, describe limitations encountered in the process, and highlight areas for improvement in water data management.
Indirect water reuse; Water use; Wastewater discharges; Water withdrawals; Wabash River; Water data
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