World Water Facts from a Newly Updated WBCSD Report

2959393208_f4fb74f682A newly updated report from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) highlights many key facts and trends on how the world uses and manages its freshwater supply.

Agriculture-related activity is responsible for around 70% of freshwater use.  Here are some other interesting facts from the report:

  • Less than 3% of the world’s water is freshwater.  Of this freshwater supply, about five-sixths is frozen and thus inaccessible.
  • Almost 97% of the available freshwater is stored in underground aquifers, with the remainder coming from rainfall, natural lakes, rivers, and other man-made facilities.
  • Fewer than 10 countries possess 60% of the world’s available freshwater supply: Brazil, Russia, China, Canada, Indonesia, U.S., India, Columbia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Globally, roughly 15-35% of irrigation withdrawals for agriculture are estimated to be unsustainable.  Susceptible regins include the western U.S., northern India and Pakistan, northern China, eastern South Africa, southeastern Australia, and parts of the Mediterranean.
  • India, China, and Egypt all use more than 80% of their freshwater for irrigation, compared to about 1% in the UK.
  • 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases (including cholera)– the equivalent of 15 killer tsunamis each year or 12 Boeing 747 crashes every day.
  • U.S. average annual domestic consumption of water (per capita) is 215 cubic metres per year, 6.7 times the average in China and more than double the average in France.
  • Important trends impacting water use in the future include population growth, increasing global affluence, and climate change.