- Three types of water use are distinguished: a) withdrawal, where water is taken from a river, or surface or underground reservoir, and after use returned to a natural water body, e.g. water used for cooling in industrial processes. Such return flows are particularly important for downstream users in the case of water taken from rivers; b) consumptive, which starts with withdrawal but in this case without any return, e.g. irrigation, steam escaping into the atmosphere, water contained in final products, i.e. it is no longer available directly for subsequent uses; c) non-withdrawal, i.e. the in situ use of a water body for navigation (including the floating of logs by the lumber industry), fishing, recreation, effluent disposal and hydroelectric power generation.