Minimization of water use and reuse applications within industry has recently gained importance within the context of water conservation efforts. The leather tanning industry is one of the subject industries due to large amount of water to be disposed of together with a high pollution load. The leather tanning industry has a complex structure in terms of materials, processes and manufacturing practices. Therefore a systematic approach is required to assess water use practice. In this study, bovine leather processing was taken as an example. An extensive study was conducted as on-site evaluations and questionnaires in the istanbul Organized Leather Tanning District to assess water use practices, patterns and minimization trends. Results of the study were discussed and important aspects of water minimization practices have been pointed out. (C) 1999 IAWQ Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.