But how much of that water is lost to the ecology of Oregon ? It is just being run through a system of pipes and released again. A common sight in the UK used to be pillars of steam rising from cooling towers attached to coal fired power stations and this steam was lost to the immediate ecology since the evaporated water seldom fell as rain in the immediate area but the majority of the water used was released back into rivers and such like.
Piping the sort of volumes referred to is not a trivial cost and the tax payers are entitled to be given the cost benefit data as they are the ones paying for it, and it would be reasonable to expect a commercial company to pay a commercial rate for its water supply but I fail to see how this affects the overall water supply in Oregon. It is possible that this water is no longer considered fit for human consumption but it is surely available for irrigation and similar uses. It is not as though it is being used for processing purpose as used in a chip fab or a steel works which do result in considerable contamination of the water used.