Facts on Water

70% of the earth is covered with water. 97.5% of the world’s water is salt water. Only 2.5% is fresh water. Over two thirds of that is frozen away in polar ice caps and permanent snow cover. Less than one-hundredth of 1% is both fresh, accessible for use, and renewable each year.

The world is now using 52% of the available fresh water.

Half the world’s rivers and lakes are seriously polluted.

The United States is the largest consumer of water in the world.
U.S. citizens use 493,473 gallons or 1,868 m³ a year. Canada uses 1,688 m³ per capita; Japan 720 m³; Germany 530 m³; Denmark 180 m³; Bangladesh 134 m³; and Nigeria 46 m³.

In five of the most explosive water conflict regions – the Aral Sea and the rivers Ganges, Jordan, Nile, Euphrates and Tigris – the population is set to increase by between 30% and 70% by the year 2025.

5 million people die annually from water-related diseases – more than 10,000 people every day.

By 2025, nearly 50% of the world’s population (at least 3.5 billion people) will face water scarcity.

Water consumption is growing at twice the rate of the population. Since 1950, fresh water demands have tripled. In the next 20 years, worldwide demand for water will grow another 40%.

A liter of bottled water often costs more than a gallon of gasoline.

Agriculture and food production account for roughly 75% of the water consumption worldwide. Currently an average of 1000 tonnes of water are required for a tonne of grain. The consequence: many of the world’s largest rivers run dry before they reach the sea. Ground water reservoirs are drying up; fresh water biotopes are disappearing.

At least 20% of the Earth’s 10,000 fresh water fish species are now endangered, threatened with extinction or already extinct.

Almost 90% of the effluent worldwide is not treated. At the same time, aging and inadequate infrastructure is causing huge water loss in almost all the world’s cities. In the mega-cities of the developing world, half of all the water leaks into the soil. In Mexico City, the amount of water loss is equivalent to the water requirement of a city the size of Rome.

1.1 billion people do not have access to adequate or safe drinking water.

The continental United States has lost 50% of its wetlands. In California, 95% of the wetlands have gone. Wetlands in the U.S. and other countries are becoming wastelands due to dumping, upstream water draw-off, water diversion, and urban development.

In the U.S., some state laws allow landowners to capture and sell any and all water found directly under their properties, even if that water comes from shared resources and even if doing so poses a threat to the shared supply.

Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program: "Without clean water poverty can not be combated."

Contaminated drinking water is the prime cause of sickness worldwide. 80% of all sickness in the developing countries is caused by dirty water, according to the WHO.

In the ocean, over 90% of the population of large fish species has been killed, due to industrialized fishing. Estuaries and reefs are disappearing.


Current Issue Back Issues Complete Edition Info