Water is a precious, shared resource. Our stewardship of it is a fundamental, material issue for our stakeholders and an important element in our sustainability approach.
Water is also a critical raw material in our operations, particularly for ore processing, cooling, casting, dust suppression and potable uses.
Our priorities for water management are outlined in our Water Stewardship Policy. The policy is supported by our Water and Wastewater Management Standard, which is aligned with the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) Position Statement on Water Stewardship.
We developed our water disclosure and accounting in accordance with ICMM Water Reporting Good Practice Guide, 2nd Edition, which was released in August 2021. We are currently updating our water accounting processes to align with the new ICMM reporting requirements required for disclosure by 2023.
Our total water use in 2021 was 835.1 million cubic meters, which was a 3.7 percent decrease compared to 2020. Our water withdrawal decreased 3.0 percent over the prior year to 840.4 million cubic meters and we recycled or reused 165.8 million cubic meters of water. Our total outputs (discharge and consumption) also decreased by 3.8 percent. Refinement in the water accounting at our Warrick and Juruti operations resulted in a change in the outputs balance between discharge and consumption. Water discharges decreased by 4.2 percent to 778.3 million cubic meters and water consumption increased by 2.3 percent to 56.4 million cubic meters.
Our Alcoa-defined water-scarce locations account for 5.3 percent of Alcoa's total water use with 44.3 million cubic meters used in 2021, a 0.3 percent decrease compared to 2020. Alcoa-defined water-scarce locations recycled 144.9 million cubic meters of water in 2021. High quality water withdrawal as a percentage of total high quality water withdrawn was 3.4 percent, and high quality water consumption as a percentage of total high quality water consumption was 56.4 percent.