Water and You: Interesting Water Facts

Water supplies are falling while the demand is dramatically growing at an unsustainable rate. Over the next 20 years, the average supply of water worldwide per person is expected to drop by a third.

By the middle of this century, seven billion people in 60 countries may be faced with water scarcity (at least two billion in 48 countries currently face such a harsh reality).

One litre of wastewater pollutes about eight litres of freshwater. That’s an estimated 12,000 km³ of polluted water worldwide, which is more than the total amount contained in the world’s ten largest river basins at any given moment. Therefore, if pollution keeps pace with population growth, the world will effectively lose 18,000 km³ of freshwater by 2050 – almost nine times the total amount countries currently use each year for irrigation, which is by far the largest consumer of the resource.

Asian rivers are the most polluted in the world, with three times as many bacteria from human waste as the global average. These rivers have 20 times more lead than those of industrialized countries.

Water consumption has almost doubled in the last 50 years. A child born in the developed world consumes 30 to 50 times the water resources of one in the developing world.

People already use over half the world’s accessible freshwater and may use nearly three-quarters by 2025.

Over 1.5 billion people lack ready access to drinking water and, if current consumption patterns continue, at least 3.5 billion people — nearly half the world’s projected population — will live in water-stressed river basins in just 20 years.

Two-fifths of fish species come from freshwater habitats. There is one species to 15 km3 of freshwater, as compared to one species to 100,000 km3 of seawater.

Humans are already appropriating more than half of all accessible surface water runoff, and this may increase to 70% by 2025.

The three largest water users in global terms are:

Water is becoming scarce due to higher pollution levels and habitat degradation. Contamination denies as many as 3.3 billion people access to clean water supplies. In developing countries, an estimated 90% of wastewater is discharged directly into rivers and streams without treatment. Each year there are about 250 million cases of water related diseases, with roughly five to 10 million deaths.

Producing a fast food lunch--hamburger, french fries, and a soft drink--uses 1500 gallons of water. This includes the water needed to raise the potatoes, the grain for the bun and to feed the cattle, and the production of the soda.

At least one in three Asians has no access to safe drinking water, and at least one in two has no access to sanitation.

Freshwater fish stocks have declined by up to 90 % in many of the world's largest rivers.

Some Interesting Numbers:

1.1 billion -- the number of people worldwide who lack an adequate and safe supply of water for their daily needs, approximately one in five.

5 million --- the number of people, mostly children, who die each year from illnesses caused by poor-quality water supplies.

5 -- the minimum number of gallons (about 19 litres) of water needed to meet a person's daily needs, according to the World Health Organization.

2.2 million – the number of people who die each year from diseases related to contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation.

50 -- the percentage of people in Africa who suffer from water-related diseases such as cholera and infant diarrhea.

20 -- the percentage of the world's freshwater supply that is in Canada, which recently banned bulk exports of water.

$90 billion -- estimated annual global investments in public water supplies.

$15 billion -- estimated annual sales of the U.S. bottled water industry.

Just a 10% improvement in efficiency of water delivery for irrigation systems could conserve enough water to double the global amount available for drinking.

About two million tons of waste is dumped every day into rivers, lakes and streams. One liter of wastewater pollutes about eight liters of freshwater.

Every day, 6000 people, mostly children under the age of five, die from diarrheal diseases due to worsening water quality.

One inch of rainfall drops 7,000 gallons, or nearly 30 tons of water, on a 60' x 180' piece of land.

Up to 60% of the human body is water. The brain is composed of 70% water. Blood is 82% water. And the lungs are nearly 90% water.

You can refill an 8 oz. glass of water approximately 15,000 times for the same cost as a six pack of soda pop.

Two-thirds of the water used in an average home is used in the bathroom.

A person takes in about 16,000 gallons of water in his or her lifetime on average.

A corn field of one acre gives off 4,000 gallons of water per day in evaporation.

The average five-minute shower takes between 15 to 25 gallons of water.

Each person uses about 100 gallons of water a day at home.

A cubic mile of ordinary fog contains less than a gallon of water.

Over 90% of the world's supply of fresh water is located in Antarctica.

It takes approximately six gallons of water to grow a single serving of lettuce. And, more than 2600 gallons are required to produce a single serving of steak!

Cows have to drink four gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk.

It takes about 39,000 gallons of water to produce the average domestic auto, including tires.

A large cumulonimbus cloud can hold enough water for 500,000 baths. Most of the water droplets in a cloud re-evaporate and never reach the ground. Only one fifth actually falls as rain.

At any one time it is estimated that half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from water-borne diseases.

You could survive about a month without food, but only five to seven days without water.

A dripping water tap wastes an average of 40 kilowatt hours of electricity per month. This is the equivalent of running a color television eight hours a day for about 31 days.

Americans drink 50 billion glasses of tap water every day.

It takes 10 gallons of water to make one can of soda.