By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Every day, people in the seven-county metro area use 1.3 billion gallons of water. That’s the equivalent of sixty fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Most of that water (64 percent) is used by power plants to generate power. Slightly more than a quarter (27 percent) goes to public water systems that supply water used each day to eat, drink, clean and water lawns. After that, 3 percent of the water goes towards irrigation for places like farms and gold courses. That’s followed by water level maintenance (3 percent), industrial processing (2 percent) and private wells (1 percent).

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According to the Metropolitan Council’s Master Water Supply Plan, the water used in power generation is not a primary focus because almost all of that water is used and then returned back to its original source.

The goal of the plan is to discuss the region’s water use and how it could change in the future. In it, the plan’s authors write, “It will become increasingly important to ensure that the water use is sustainable and sufficient for future generation, while protecting the environment natural habitat.”

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When it comes to the average user in the metro, each person uses about 125 gallons of water each day at work, home and places in between.

But, when home usage is singled out, people only use an average of 94 gallons of water each day. Almost one-quarter (23 percent) is used for outdoor purposes for things like watering lawns or plants. That’s followed by toilets (21 percent), washing machines (17 percent), showers (13 percent), faucets (12 percent), leaks (10 percent) and other (4 percent).

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Over the last 25 years, the Master Water Supply Plan says people in the metro area are using less water inside, due to more efficient appliances. However, people are using more water outside. In the early 1990s, people used 1.6 times the water in the summer compared to the winter. By the 2010, that rate increased to 2.3 times.

Heather Brown