Water withdrawal and consumption by sector

Access PDF (227 KB)

In 2013, approximately 38 300 million cubic metres of water were withdrawn from Canada's rivers, lakes, groundwater and oceans. The thermal power generation industry withdrew the most water, which was used for cooling and to produce steam to drive the turbines that generate electricity. Thermal power generation is followed by the manufacturing, households, commercial and institutional, agriculture, mining and oil and gas sectors. The majority of the water withdrawn is circulated back into the water body from which it was taken. 

Total water withdrawal declined from 42 200 million cubic metres of water in 2005 to 38 300 million cubic metres in 2013. The substantial drop in water withdrawal is related, in part, to a decrease in manufacturing production between 2005 and 2013,Footnote [1] which resulted in the manufacturing sector withdrawing 31% and consuming 37% less water in 2013 than in 2005.

In 2013, approximately 3600 million cubic metres of water were consumed or were not returned to the original source. Agriculture consumed 1600 million cubic metres, or 80%, of the water withdrawn from water sources.

Between 2005 and 2013, water consumption decreased slightly from 3700 million cubic metres to 3600 million cubic metres. Households and thermal power generation experienced reductions in consumption of 16% and 45%, respectively, over the same period.

Water withdrawal by sector, Canada, 2005 to 2013

Line and Stacked Bar Chart

Long description

The graph displays two charts side by side. The line chart shows the estimated volume (in million cubic metres) of water withdrawn by the thermal power generation, manufacturing, households, commercial and institutional, agriculture, mining, and oil and gas sectors every two years from 2005 to 2013. The stacked bar chart shows the volume of water withdrawn (in million cubic metres) by each of those seven sectors in Canada in 2013. Of the water withdrawn by each sector, the volume of water returned to the environment is displayed, along with the volume consumed, or not returned to the original source.

Data for this chart
Water withdrawal by sector, Canada, 2005 to 2013
Sector Year Volume of water withdrawn
(million cubic metres)
Volume of water consumed
(million cubic metres)
Volume of water returned
(million cubic metres)
Thermal power generation 2005 27 825 716 27 109
Thermal power generation 2007 27 834 522 27 313
Thermal power generation 2009 26 214 484 25 729
Thermal power generation 2011 23 716 412 23 304
Thermal power generation 2013 25 635 397 25 239
Manufacturing 2005 5719 650 5069
Manufacturing 2007 4573 452 4122
Manufacturing 2009 3927 367 3561
Manufacturing 2011 3790 448 3342
Manufacturing 2013 3954 411 3543
Households 2005 3875 388 3488
Households 2007 3827 383 3445
Households 2009 3589 359 3230
Households 2011 3506 351 3156
Households 2013 3239 324 2915
Commercial and institutional 2005 2053 205 1847
Commercial and institutional 2007 2036 204 1832
Commercial and institutional 2009 1957 196 1762
Commercial and institutional 2011 1930 193 1737
Commercial and institutional 2013 2074 207 1867
Agriculture 2005 1829 1536 293
Agriculture 2007 2322 1950 371
Agriculture 2009 2366 1988 379
Agriculture 2011 1809 1519 289
Agriculture 2013 2007 1600 407
Mining 2005 669 44 624
Mining 2007 906 151 755
Mining 2009 675 98 578
Mining 2011 776 144 632
Mining 2013 976 300 675
Oil and gas 2005 198 188 10
Oil and gas 2007 190 181 10
Oil and gas 2009 293 278 15
Oil and gas 2011 349 332 17
Oil and gas 2013 402 382 20

Note: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 1.61 KB)

Note: The indicator reports estimates of water withdrawal and consumption by each sector. Refer to the Data Sources and Methods document for more details.
Source: Statistics Canada (2012) CANSIM Table 153-0101 - Water use in Canada, by sector, every 2 years, CANSIM database. Statistics Canada (2015) CANSIM Table 153-0116 - Physical flow account for water use, every 2 years, CANSIM database. Statistics Canada (2015) Industrial Water Survey 2013.

Water consumption refers to water withdrawn but not returned to its original source. In producing food for Canadians, the agriculture sector in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan consume the most water overall. In the British Columbia interior and the Prairies, irrigation systems are widely used to improve crop yields because the amount of water in this region is naturally low. Very little of the water used for irrigation is returned directly to its source. The oil and gas sector is also a large consumer of water. Approximately 95% of the water withdrawn is consumed; however, water is recycled and reused wherever possible, avoiding additional withdrawals from surface water and groundwater sources.Footnote [2]

Access PDF (227 KB)

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Privacy statement

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: