Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet

Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet

Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering

590 Woody Hayes Dr., Columbus, Ohio 43210

Water Use Planning Guide


Karen Mancl

An adequate water supply is important in any home, farm or community. The water supply must meet the demands of domestic use, commercial use, industrial needs, agricultural use and fire protection.

Domestic Use

Water is used in the home for a variety of purposes: cleaning, bathing, drinking and flushing wastes. The average person uses 50 to 75 gallons of water each day. Only about 5 percent of that water (2 to 4 gallons) is used for drinking and cooking. The highest percentage, 40 percent, is used to flush toilets.


All commercial establishments have some demand for water. Water may only be needed for employee restroom facilities. Several businesses, such as swimming pools and restaurants, have a high demand for water.

Business/Institution Water Use (gal/person/day)
Swimming Pool10
Country Club (non-resident)25
Homes, institutional75-125
Camp ground25
Picnic areas
    with showers and toilets
    toilets only
    drinking fountain only
    with cafeteria, gym and showers
    with cafeteria only
    no cafeteria, gym or showers
Restaurants7-10 gal/customer/day
Service Stations10 gal/vehicle/day
Motels40 gal/bed space/day
General Commercial45 gal/employee/day


Industries have varying water demands. All industries need some water for employee restroom facilities. In addition, industries may use water for production, cleaning or cooling. Food processing, energy production, brewing and bottling, for example, all have a high demand for water.

IndustryWater Use (gal/employee/day)
Apparel and other textile products24
Chemical and allied products1,068
Electronic and other electric equipment216
Fabricated metal products378
Food and kindred products843
Furniture and fixtures149
Industrial machinery and equipment184
Instruments and related products116
Lumber and wood products651
Miscellaneous manufacturing industries213
Paper and allied products2,944
Petroleum and coal products1,852
Primary metal industries584
Printing and publishing38
Rubber and miscellaneous plastics products323
Stone, clay and glass products413
Textile mill products512
Transportation equipment235

Fire Protection

Providing adequate water to fight a fire is a challenge for any water system. The system must provide a significant volume of water at a reasonable flow rate. For a small community, a minimum of 500 gallons per minute must be provided for at least 2 hours. This is a total of 60,000 gallons of water. Remote homes and farms also need fire protection. A minimum of 10 gallons per minute must be provide for at least 2 hours. This is a total of 1,200 gallons.


Agriculture depends on quality water. Livestock operations need drinking water and water to clean equipment. Nursery and greenhouse operations need water to irrigate plants. In Ohio, some specialty field crops, mostly fruits and vegetables, need supplemental water to irrigate during droughts. Specialty crops also use water for frost protection.

Animal Water Use (gal/ animal /day)
Dairy cow35
Dry cow or steer12
Horse or pony12
Sheep or goat2
100 Chickens5-10
100 Turkeys10-18
Milking center cleaning4-10 per cow

All educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, age, disability or Vietnam-era veteran status.

Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Ag. Adm. and Director, OSU Extension.

TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-6181

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