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Water abstraction, water extraction, or groundwater abstraction is the process of taking water from any source, either temporarily or permanently. Most water is used for irrigation or treatment to produce drinking water.
Depending on the environmental legislation in the relevant country, controls may be placed on abstraction to limit the amount of water that can be removed. Over abstraction can lead to rivers drying up or the level of groundwater aquifers reducing unacceptably.
The science of hydrogeology is used to assess safe abstraction levels.
In some U.S. industries, the terminology for water use describes the removal of water from the environment as 'water withdrawal', and the conversion of fresh water into water vapor or wastewater as 'water consumption'.
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