Water

Water is a precious shared resource. It is also a material issue for Alcoa and our stakeholders and a critical raw material in our operations, particularly for ore processing, cooling, casting, rolling, dust suppression and potable uses.

Our 2020 net water use was 867.2 million cubic meters, which was a 6.7 percent increase compared to 2019. The key factor behind the increased consumption was an increase in cooling water required during a compressor outage at our Warrick Operations in the United States.

Our locations in water-stressed areas had a net use of 44.4 million cubic meters, which was a 4.5 percent decrease compared to the prior year. Our long-term goal is to reduce the intensity of our total water use from Alcoa-defined water-scarce locations by 5 percent by 2025 and 10 percent by 2030 from a 2015 baseline. We achieved a 3.0 percent reduction against the baseline through 2020.

We published our Water Stewardship Policy in 2020 to outline our vision and priorities for water, and we completed the rollout of our updated Water and Wastewater Management Standard. In 2020, each location began developing its water management plan, which is the key requirement of the standard. The plans will extend our understanding of our water risks and impacts.

2020 Water Balance—All Locations
Million cubic meters

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2020 Water Balance—All Locations
Million cubic meters

Category 1 water is of a high quality and suitable for most purposes with little or no treatment. Category 2 water is of a medium quality and suitable for some purposes, such as irrigation. Category 3 water is of a low quality and suitable for limited purposes without significant treatment. Categories 1 and 2 are equivalent to the ICMM High Quality definition, and Category 3 is equivalent to the ICMM Low Quality definition. Groundwater includes produced water, which is water entrained in ore. The 2020 change in storage volume was -1.0 million cubic meters, and 169 million cubic meters were recycled/reused in the process. The sum of categories may vary from the totals due to rounding.
Water Inputs Water Outputs
Category 1 Category 2 Category 3 Total Category 1 Category 2 Category 3 Total
Surface Water 34.6 707.2 20.3 762.0 1.0 648.4 0.7 650.2
Groundwater 1.9 16.4 3.9 22.1 0.0 1.1 1.1 2.2
Seawater 0.0 0.0 69.6 69.6 0.0 0.4 95.5 95.9
Third-party Water 3.2 8.0 1.2 12.4 0.1 0.0 0.3 0.5
Consumption
Evaporation - - - - 5.6 66.3 35.1 107.0
Entrainment - - - - 0.0 0.0 11.7 11.7
Total 39.7 731.6 94.9 866.2 6.7 716.3 144.4 867.4