Specific questions on water quantities (2023)

1. How much water is available on earth and how much of this water is available for humans?

Approximately 1385 million cubic kilometres of water are available on earth. 97,5% of the water is salt water that can be found mainly in oceans. Only 2,5% is freshwater that can be used by plants, animals and humans. However, nearly 90% of this freshwater is not readily available, because it is centred in icecaps of the Antarctic. Only 0.26% of the water on this world is available for humans and other organisms, this is about 93.000 cubic kilometres. Only 0.014% of this water can be used for drinking water production, as most of it is stored in clouds or in the ground.

2. How much freshwater will be available for one person?

Increases in world population means increased water use and less availability on a per capita basis. In 1989 there was some 9,000 cubic metres of freshwater per person available for human use. By 2000, this had dropped to 7,800 cubic metres and it is expected to plummet to 5,100 cubic metres per person by 2025, when the global population is projected to reach 8 billion.

3. What is the total world annual consumption of potable water and seawater?

People already use over half the world's accessible freshwater now, and may use nearly three-quarters by 2025. Over the twentieth century, the world annual water use has grown from about 300 km3 to about 2,100 km3 (see chart).

Specific questions on water quantities (1)

In this chart the annual water consumption is shown, as withdrawal and use. These two concepts are separated, because much of the withdrawn water is later returned to the water cycle, after application. An example is cooling water; it is used for power generation and is immediately released for further use downstream.

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Each country has a different equivalent use per person.

The annual per capita water use for each part of the world:
- North Americans use 1,280 cubic meters
- Europeans and Australians use 694 cubic meters
- Asians use 535 cubic meters
- South Americans use 311 cubic meters
- Africans use 186 cubic meters

Water is used for three main purposes; agricultural uses, industrial uses and domestic uses. Each country uses a different amount of its available water for these three main purposes. In percentages, the global use for the three main purposes is divided up as follows:

- Agriculture (mostly irrigation) = 69 %
- Industry = 23 %
- Domestic use (household water = drinking water, sanitation) = 8 %

Current global water withdrawals for irrigation are estimated at about 2,000 to 2,555 cubic kilometres per year. The annual water volume used by industry is estimated 975 km3.

The water that humans use for drinking water preparation is mainly freshwater. But freshwater availability has become a problem over the years, as only 0.014% of the water on earth is readily available freshwater for drinking purposes. In some countries they are trying to solve this problem by withdrawal and desalination of seawater. Right now, 0.1% of the water that is used by humans is desalinated seawater.

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4. What are the projected needs for water in the next 10 to 50 years?

Global consumption of water is doubling every 20 years, more that twice the rate of human population growth. According to the various water research agencies, the world water use is expected to triple in the next 50 years.
Almost half of the world's population lives in 263 international river basins, but two-thirds of these basins have no treaties to share water. Because of this, wars over water are extremely likely to happen in the future, when water becomes scarcer. Disputes could also consist over aquifers in time.

The world's population of six billion people is already using about 54 per cent of all the accessible freshwater found in rivers, lakes and underground aquifers. By 2025 the human share will be 70 percent, based on the population increase. If per capita consumption of water resources continues to rise at its current rate, humankind could be using over 90 per cent of all available freshwater within 25 years.

5. How many people do not have access to clean water?

Water scarcity is caused by dry climates, drought, desiccation, or water stress. Water scarcity caused by drought has killed over 24,000 people a year since the 1970's. Over 40% of the world's population now experiences water shortages that threaten their agriculture and industry and also their personal health. Today over a billion people do not have access to clean drinking water and by 2025 at least 3 billion people in 90 different countries are expected to face severe water stress. The main problem that causes this is not a shortage of water, but the wasteful and unsustainable use of available water supplies.

6. What is the average cost of water per cubic meter in different countries?

The costs of a cubic meter of water are known to differ between countries. In this chart, the costs of one cubic meter of water are shown, for 14 different countries.

Specific questions on water quantities (2)

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7. How much does a cubic meter of desalinated water cost in various countries?

When water is desalinated through the Reverse Osmosis (RO) treatment, the costs are as follows:
Depending on the site of the plant, total costs of desalinated seawater vary between 0.5 and 0.8 dollars/ cubic meter. This makes desalinated water a more expensive resource than freshwater for many countries, but it is definitely not an unnecessary resource.
It has to be noted that the above-mentioned costs do not include distribution towards points of use (houses, factories, etc.).

8. What will happen to the cost of desalinated water in the next 10 to 50 years?

The costs should decline within the next 10-50 years, as membranes become cheaper and more efficient. However, the costs are mostly energy related, so the energy use should be taken into account.

9. How will population increases influence water use?

Global population now exceeds 6.2 billion, more that double what it was in 1950, and is currently projected to rise to between 7.9 billion and 10.9 billion by 2050. Even when the population does not increase, water use will still grow. A population increase will only make the global water use rise faster.

An important issue here is that the water of our world is not divided up fairly between all its inhabitants. Water shortages are most likely to occur in developing countries, which have the highest population rates. In the developed world the per capita use is much higher than the projected need. The people in developed countries that use too much water tend to blame people in developing countries, because developing countries experience the largest population growth. But in developing countries, over a billion people have no excess to clean drinking water.


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Living in the Environment, a book by G. Tyler Miller Jr.
State of the world 2003, a book by Cris Bright and others
Water, a natural history, a book by Alice Outwater
The Sceptical Environmentalist, a book by Matt Ridley

For more answers to your questions on water quantities, move to our Water Quantity FAQ

For the answers to your questions on drinking water, move to our Drinking Water FAQ


Is there enough water for everyone? ›

Many people live faraway from freshwater sources. They need to carry their water home. While our planet as a whole may never run out of water, it's important to remember that clean freshwater is not always available where and when humans need it.

What are the questions about water shortage? ›

Water Shortage - The 20 Questions

What do you think about what you read? What would you do if water was in short supply? Should we pay more for water so we don't waste it? Why should farmers have to cut the amount of water they use?

What are some questions about water? ›

Water Use Questions & Answers
  • Where does our home water come from?
  • How much water do I use per day?
  • How is water supplied to our homes?
  • How is wastewater treated?
  • Why does my water smell like rotten eggs?
  • Where does our home wastewater go?
  • How much water falls during a storm?
  • Does a little leak in my house waste water?
6 Sept 2019

What quantity of water can be used for human purposes? ›

The Earth might seem like it has abundant water, but in fact less than 1 percent is available for human use.

How much is enough water daily? ›

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is: About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men. About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women.

Do we have enough water for our future needs? ›

If current usage trends don't change, the world will have only 60 percent of the water it needs in 2030. By 2035, the world's energy consumption will increase by 35 percent, which in turn will increase water use by 15 percent according to the International Energy Agency.

What are the main causes of shortage of water? ›

Agriculture consumes more water than any other source and wastes much of that through inefficiencies. Climate change is altering patterns of weather and water around the world, causing shortages and droughts in some areas and floods in others. At the current consumption rate, this situation will only get worse.

What is responsible for shortage of water? ›

Major Causes of Water Scarcity

Natural calamities such as droughts and floods. Increased human consumption. Overuse and wastage of water. A global rise in freshwater demand.

What factors cause water shortage? ›

Major Causes of Water Scarcity
  • Overuse of water. Nowadays, the overuse of water is increasing day by day and people are using an extra amount than needed. ...
  • Pollution of water. ...
  • Conflict. ...
  • Drought. ...
  • Global warming. ...
  • Groundwater pollution.

What is water question answer? ›

Water is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula H2O. It is a transparent, tasteless, odourless compound. It is composed of two hydrogens and one oxygen.

Why is water called water? ›

The word "water" comes from the Old English word wæter or from the Proto-Germanic watar or German Wasser. All of these words mean "water" or "wet."

What is a scientific question of water? ›

Can water stay liquid below zero degrees Celsius? Does wasting household water remove it from the water cycle? How can there be clouds in winter when it is too cold for water to stay a vapor? How do wells get their water from underground rivers?

What happens when you drink enough water? ›

You'll feel less hungry and may even lose weight. You'll probably experience more comfortable digestion (less heartburn). Bowel movements might be easier and more regular. Your teeth and gums will be healthier and more resilient.

What happens if you don't drink enough water? ›

“If you don't get enough water, hard stools and constipation could be common side effects, along with abdominal pain and cramps.” Dull skin. Dehydration shows up on your face in the form of dry, ashy skin that seems less radiant, plump and elastic. Fatigue.

Which source of water is most important for human use? ›

The body has no way to store water and needs fresh supplies every day. The best source of fluids is fresh tap water.

How long can you live without water? ›

The body requires a lot of water to maintain an internal temperature balance and keep cells alive. In general, a person can survive for about three days without water.

What are the benefits of drinking water daily? ›

Getting enough water every day is important for your health. Drinking water can prevent dehydration, a condition that can cause unclear thinking, result in mood change, cause your body to overheat, and lead to constipation and kidney stones.

Do most people not get enough water? ›

Unfortunately, nearly 80% of the people do not drink enough water.

Is water sufficient for life? ›

Water is absolutely essential to the human body's survival. A person can live for about a month without food but only about a week without water.

What percentage of the world does not have enough water? ›

One-in-four people do not have access to safe drinking water. 6% of the world does not have access to an improved water source.

How can we prevent shortage of water? ›

Solutions to addressing water shortages include dams and reservoirs, rainwater harvesting, aqueducts, desalination, water reuse, and water conservation.
  1. Dams and Reservoirs. ...
  2. Rainwater Harvesting. ...
  3. Aqueducts. ...
  4. Desalination. ...
  5. Water Reuse (Water Recycling) ...
  6. Water Conservation.
5 Sept 2022

How does the shortage of water affect our environment? ›

Water scarcity limits access to safe water for drinking and for practising basic hygiene at home, in schools and in health-care facilities. When water is scarce, sewage systems can fail and the threat of contracting diseases like cholera surges. Scarce water also becomes more expensive.

How can we stop water scarcity? ›

Managing Water Scarcity
  1. Installing special tanks that store rainwater for irrigation.
  2. Using drip irrigation for more efficient watering.
  3. Establishing schools for farmers where they learn how to adapt to climate change with drought-resistant crops, crop rotation, and sustainable ways to raise livestock.

Which is the purest form of water? ›

Rainwater is the purest form of water. The rainwater directly comes from the condensation of water in the presence of the sun. The water evaporates from the lakes/rivers/seas. During the vaporization process, the impurities get removed, and then waterfalls directly into the earth in the form of rain.

Who controls the water supply? ›

Providing safe drinking water is a partnership that involves EPA, the states, tribes, water systems, and water system operators. The public drinking water systems regulated by EPA and delegated states and tribes provide drinking water to 90 percent of Americans.

How can I increase my water supply? ›

Handling your water crisis: Finding new supplies of water
  1. Dam a river and create a reservoir to store water.
  2. Dig more wells to tap groundwater.
  3. Build more water towers to store water.
  4. Build a new wastewater-treatment plant to recycle wastewater.

What is a short answer question? ›

Some assignments have questions that are broken down into parts that each require a brief answer. These are called short answer questions. Short answer questions require concise answers so it is essential to read the question carefully and to take account of the process words.

Why is water the universal solvent? ›

Because of its polarity and ability to form hydrogen bonds, water makes an excellent solvent, meaning that it can dissolve many different kinds of molecules.

What are the three forms of water Question Answer? ›

Water can occur in three states: solid (ice), liquid or gas (vapor).

What is the real name of water? ›

The chemical name of water is hydrogen oxide. Component of water is hydrogen and oxygen.

Who named water? ›

Etymology. The word water comes from Old English wæter, from Proto-Germanic *watar (source also of Old Saxon watar, Old Frisian wetir, Dutch water, Old High German wazzar, German Wasser, vatn, Gothic 𐍅𐌰𐍄𐍉 (wato), from Proto-Indo-European *wod-or, suffixed form of root *wed- ("water"; "wet").

What's water made of? ›

A water molecule has three atoms: two hydrogen (H) atoms and one oxygen (O) atom. That's why water is sometimes referred to as H2O. A single drop of water contains billions of water molecules.

How much water is there in the world? ›

For a detailed explanation of where Earth's water is, look at the data table below. Notice how of the world's total water supply of about 332.5 million mi3 of water, over 96 percent is saline. Of total freshwater, over 68 percent is locked up in ice and glaciers. Another 30 percent of freshwater is in the ground.

Why do we need water question answer? ›

You need water to digest your food and get rid of waste. Water is needed for digestive juices, urine (pee), and poop. And you can bet that water is the main ingredient in perspiration, also called sweat. Besides being an important part of the fluids in your body, water is needed by each cell to work.

What are 5 things about water? ›

Water Facts of Life Ride the Water Cycle With These Fun Facts
  • There is the same amount of water on Earth as there was when the Earth was formed. ...
  • Water is composed of two elements, Hydrogen and Oxygen. ...
  • Nearly 97% of the world's water is salty or otherwise undrinkable. ...
  • Water regulates the Earth's temperature.
23 Feb 2016

Which water is best to drink? ›

Without a doubt, spring water is the winner. It is considered the best water to drink, providing vital nutrients as it moves through the body. This is, of course, spring water that is bottled at the source and proven to be actual living spring water.

What happens if you stay too much in water? ›

For reasons that still aren't well understood, human skin starts to break down after continuous immersion in water of a few days. You'd suffer open sores and be liable to fungal and bacterial infections just from the spores on your skin, even if the water itself was perfectly sterile.

Which organ benefits the most from water? ›

Water Helps Your Body Remove Waste

Water helps your kidneys remove waste from your blood and keep the blood vessels that run to your kidneys open and filter them out, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

What are the main nutrients in water? ›

Drinking water contains several electrolytes (substances in solution that conduct an electric current) including calcium, chloride, fluoride, magnesium, potassium and sodium. Water is necessary for all digestion and absorption functions, and lubricates mucous membranes in the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts.

How much water on earth is drinkable? ›

0.5% of the earth's water is available fresh water. If the world's water supply were only 100 liters (26 gallons), our usable water supply of fresh water would be only about 0.003 liter (one-half teaspoon). In actuality, that amounts to an average of 8.4 million liters (2.2 million gallons) for each person on earth.

What year will we run out of water? ›

Unless water use is drastically reduced, severe water shortage will affect the entire planet by 2040. "There will be no water by 2040 if we keep doing what we're doing today".

Will the water on Earth ever run out? ›

In reality, the world won't run out of water. Water does not leave Earth, nor does it come from space. The amount of water the world has is the same amount of water we've always had. However, we could run out of usable water, or at least see a drop to very low reserves.

What happens if we run out of water? ›

When waters run dry, people can't get enough to drink, wash, or feed crops, and economic decline may occur. In addition, inadequate sanitation—a problem for 2.4 billion people—can lead to deadly diarrheal diseases, including cholera and typhoid fever, and other water-borne illnesses.

How can you conserve water? ›

25 ways to save water
  1. Check your toilet for leaks. ...
  2. Stop using your toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket. ...
  3. Put a plastic bottle in your toilet tank. ...
  4. Take shorter showers. ...
  5. Install water-saving shower heads or flow restrictors. ...
  6. Take baths. ...
  7. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. ...
  8. Turn off the water while shaving.

How can water shortage be solved? ›

Rainwater harvesting and recycled wastewater also allow to reduce scarcity and ease pressures on groundwater and other natural water bodies. Groundwater recharge, that allows water moving from surface water to groundwater, is a well-known process to prevent water scarcity.

Can we create water? ›

Yes, it is possible to make water. Water is made of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. The process to combine hydrogen and oxygen is very dangerous though. Hydrogen is flammable and oxygen feeds flames, so the reaction to create water often results in an explosion.

How much water on Earth is drinkable? ›

0.5% of the earth's water is available fresh water. If the world's water supply were only 100 liters (26 gallons), our usable water supply of fresh water would be only about 0.003 liter (one-half teaspoon). In actuality, that amounts to an average of 8.4 million liters (2.2 million gallons) for each person on earth.

Do we use water carefully? ›

That's why it's important for you to use water wisely and not to waste it. When you waste water, you're taking water that other people might need. But when you use water carefully, you leave more water for other people to use. It is also important to use water carefully because our weather can be unpredictable.

Where does the water come from? ›

As mentioned, our drinking water comes from two primary natural resources: surface water (think lakes and rivers) and groundwater. Typically, the water flows from intake points to a water treatment facility and then through our public water systems into our homes.

How do you feel without enough water? ›

Signs You are not Drinking Sufficient Water
  1. Dry skin that does not improve even using lotion daily. ...
  2. A dry, sticky mouth and feeling thirsty is a sign of dehydration. ...
  3. Headaches often accompany a state of dehydration. ...
  4. Tiredness and lack of sleep adds to dehydration. ...
  5. Gaining weight may be a sign of dehydration.

How did humans get enough water? ›

In ancient times, some people harvested rain in big containers, but many more people used water that had collected naturally in streams, rivers, and in the ground. They could find groundwater rushing by in rivers, or bubbling up from underground through a spring. They could also dig deep into the earth to find water.

Why is drinking enough water so hard? ›

Dr. Williams also notes that since “our entire body is made up of almost 60 percent water, we might not feel the need to drink it because we are abundant with it.” However, as we discussed above, “our system needs constant replenishing since we use it in every process and activity inside our body.”

In what way does life depend on water? ›

Water's extensive capability to dissolve a variety of molecules has earned it the designation of “universal solvent,” and it is this ability that makes water such an invaluable life-sustaining force. On a biological level, water's role as a solvent helps cells transport and use substances like oxygen or nutrients.

How important is water in our daily activities? ›

Water helps your body:

Keep a normal temperature. Lubricate and cushion joints. Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues. Get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements.

Why should we save water? ›

Using water-saving techniques can save you money and diverts less water from our rivers, bays, and estuaries, which helps keep the environment healthy. It can also reduce water and wastewater treatment costs and the amount of energy used to treat, pump, and heat water.


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