Water Conservation Statistics: Usage and Wastage

If you know that water covers 71% of the planet, you must wonder why there is a need to preserve it.

However, you probably didn’t know that only three percent of Earth’s water is freshwater, and just one-sixth of it is available for drinking. This makes it one of the most precious resources that will become unavailable if we don’t take care of its usage.

At the moment, water conservation statistics don’t look promising. Learn more about this and many more staggering facts by diving into these figures.

Top Water Conservation Facts: Editor’s Choice

  • Over 1 billion people don’t have access to clean water.
  • By 2025, 1800 million people will live in areas affected by water scarcity.
  • The US spends approximately 3.9 trillion gallons of water every month.
  • Diarrhea caused by inadequate sanitation and lack of clean water kills 2,195 children worldwide every day.
  • Six countries hold around 45% of the world’s water supply.
  • Around 90% of glaciers in the Alps will disappear by the end of the century.
  • People can save up to 30% of water if they have efficient home appliances and plumbing systems.

Shocking Facts About Water Worth Knowing

1. Around 97.5% of water in the world today is saltwater.

Despite its name, our planet is mainly covered in water, and about 71% are seas. Therefore, only about 2.5% of water is actually freshwater that can be used for drinking.

Even this percentage is so unevenly distributed across the globe. Some statistics on water conservation show that 45% of freshwater supplies can be found in just six countries.

2. Over 1 billion people don’t have access to clean water.

Double this number, and you’ll get how many people globally don’t have access to any kind of sanitation.

According to the WHO stats, 7 out of 10 of these people live in rural areas, while one-third live in developing countries.

Although many have gained access to drinking water since the 2000s, around 297,000 children younger than five die yearly because of diarrhea. Water conservation stats indicate that the primary cause lies in unsanitary water supplies.

3. A plane trip across the United States equals 1,700 standard toilet flushes.

Water usage facts indicate that a flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco requires over 9,000 gallons of water. Equally, you need this much water for roughly 2,000 dishwasher loads.

For comparison, this is some 700 miles round-trip, while the one across the country is around 6,000 miles.

A more shocking fact is that we can power the electricity in an average American home for five years with water used on round trip Chicago-Istanbul (10,000 miles).

4. The average swimming pool naturally loses 1,000 gallons of water a month because of evaporation.

Take into consideration that the average amount of water required for filling this pool is 22,000 gallons. When you add leakages in its foundations or pipes that develop over the years, the amount of lost water is terrifying.

These estimations can vary, though, based on the weather and climate conditions or even air temperature.

Nonetheless, some water conservation facts show that installing a pool cover would save around 90% to 95% of pool water.

5. Around 75% of people in the US suffered from some form of dehydration in 2020.

Recent water use stats suggest that most Americans suffer from chronic dehydration problems. This doesn’t mean these people are severe cases, but it’s still a concerning fact. For reference, it means that they drink only 2.5 cups of water per day.

But even dehydration in its mild form slows down the metabolism of an average person by 3%.

Water intake for an average person is eight cups, but the amount of water a person should drink also depends on their weight.

Water usage facts show that, by drinking enough water, people make sure that all bodily functions work perfectly fine. For instance, water helps skin look better, prevents dry eyes, and refreshes the breath.

On top of this, it significantly reduces the risk of developing bladder cancer (50%) and breast cancer (79%).

7. Ice caps and glaciers hold 70% of the world’s freshwater.

If by any chance, sea ice levels decreased due to global warming, the weather would change drastically. Europe could expect rainier summers, while the United States could face extreme heat.

In the same way, if all the glaciers in the world melted suddenly and at the same time, the level of the sea would rise by 230 feet.

8. Children and women in developing countries walk 3.7 miles on average to get water.

Water use statistics suggest this water is not even drinkable. To paint a clearer picture, these people spend over 200 million hours a day walking to gather water. Furthermore, converted in years, it gives more than 22,800 years.

What is worse, many women and girls who go for water for their families walk barefoot or in rubber sandals. This is especially the case in sub-Saharan Africa.

9. One-fifth of the identified freshwater fish are endangered or extinct.

This means that 2,000 out of 10,000 fish are under serious threat or have already disappeared. In fact, around 123 freshwater animal species already went extinct in the 20th century.

According to the European Parliament’s water conservation and awareness statistics, 40% of European freshwater fish were in danger of extinction in 2020.

10. Polluted water makes around 1 billion people sick each year.

This mainly affects low-income communities, notably those whose homes are nearby big polluting factories. Many viruses and bacteria from wastewater cause a lot of diseases.

However, not only poor people and areas suffer from this. For instance, thousands of people in the US each year get Legionnaires’ disease, a severe water-borne case of pneumonia.

Water Conservation Statistics 1

Water Usage Statistics That Will Blow Your Mind

11. Almost 37 gallons of water go into a single cup of coffee.

Technically, most of this amount goes to water coffee beans on plantations. However, that is a part of the process as well.

According to the National Geographic water use stats, this number was 55 gallons per cup of coffee 10 years ago. Thus, the required amount has diminished, which is a good trend.

12. The unique water footprint of six ounces of beefsteak equals 674 gallons of water.

The water footprint of food an average American consumes is quite big. Aside from the steak, one hamburger has a footprint of 660 gallons. Following these two, three ounces of ham have a footprint of 135 gallons of water.

Alternatively, water consumption statistics show that one salad has the lowest water footprint of 21 gallons of water. Still pretty high, though.

13. Leakage causes 30% of freshwater supplies loss in developed countries.

This can go even higher if we look at some of the biggest cities — 40% up to 70%.

Institutional dysfunction and unethical practices often lead to inadequate water management systems. This has a colossal impact on water leakage and loss of freshwater.

Finally, recent water-wasting statistics show that developed countries unload 90% of sewage and 70% of industrial waste into water courses without previous treatment.

14. Irrigated agriculture makes up 20% of the cultivated land, contributing 40% to the total global food production.

Since statistics illustrate that the world population will boom to over 10 billion by 2050, the need for food will increase as well.

For instance, some estimations hover over 70% expansion in food production by the same year. This will also affect water consumption, considering that agriculture absorbs about 70% of freshwater worldwide.

15. Some 30% of the water people use in households falls off to outdoor usage.

According to the newest water usage data, this number is much higher in hot and dry areas — around 60%.

For better understanding, consider this equation — approximately 20 minutes of watering the average lawn in the US for seven days is the same as letting the water run in the shower for four days non-stop.

At the same time, this corresponds to the yearly amount of water an average family needs for showering.

16. By 2025, 1,800 million people will live in areas affected by water scarcity.

Water consumption stats show that the problem with access to clean and drinkable water has plagued some parts of the world for some time now. This prediction is glooming over many nations in the world, especially those in arid areas.

Because of water scarcity trends, two-thirds of the global population could experience “stress” conditions really soon.

17. Around 70% of Las Vegas’ water supply goes to the irrigation of 60 golf courses and residential lawns in the LV Strip.

Even so, the golf industry works closely with the local water authorities to decrease this usage rate.

For instance, courses are limited to 6.3 acre-feet of water per irrigated acre per year. On top of this, each golf course has to submit its water consumption reduction plans.

Recent facts on water conservation suggest that recycled water comprises around 35% of that used for irrigation.

18. Most developing countries discharge approximately 90% of wastewater directly into rivers, seas, and lakes.

Hence, many water-borne diseases and toxic matters enter the natural flow, affecting all aspects of life.

On top of serious environmental devastation, this cripples economic development and causes diverse health issues.

The only solution is to treat this water and recycle it, thus meeting the growing demand for water from agriculture and industry.

19. Domestic water usage increased by 600% in the last 50 years.

Moreover, water use statistics show that this comes with the increase in population in the same period.

Even though industry and agriculture absorb 70% and 19% of fresh water, water consumption by household has also boomed.

If people want to preserve one of the most valuable resources they have, the population, government, and companies need to curb the water stress and address this issue.

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Water Conservation Statistics in the United States

20. Over 2.2 million miles of pipelines carry water across the US and Canada.

The majority of these pipes were laid in the mid-20th century, making the quality of water in the country questionable.

Based on the data from the American Water Works Association, the levels are satisfactory, though. Yet, to manage this system and respond to the water demand over the next 25 years, the country needs one trillion US dollars.

21. The US spends approximately 3.9 trillion gallons of water every month.

Water wasting facts show that a regular person in the US spends up to 175 gallons each day.

The country is rich in water reserves, which is the only thing saving its population from serious water exhaustion.

For reference, the US has 4.3% of the world population, while 7% of the global renewable freshwater is located within its territory.

22. The average use of water in the US was 60 gallons per person in 2020.

At the same time, the water consumption of the average home was 138 gallons per day. For example, indoor water use is highest in the bathroom — around 24%.

On top of that, wasting water facts prove that leakage is one of the primary concerns that provoke a great deal of water use. Typically, one household loses some 18 gallons of water per day because of leakage.

23. If every home in the US had a faucet that leaks a drop each second, water lost to leaking would amount to around 928 million gallons per day.

Just a single drip from the old faucet leads to 20 gallons of water waste daily. Therefore, making sure that plumbing works well with no leaking from pipes and appliances is crucially important for the conservation of water footprint. Every little helps a lot.

Typically, the most common leaks happen in the toilet, and these are sometimes hard to notice.

24.  A third of the US faced severe droughts in 2020.

According to NASA estimates, almost 53 million people across the US live in drought-stricken areas, raising life-saving points about water conservation.

The gravity of the situation is best described by the statistics showing that 93% of the land area in Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada is at some drought level. Moreover, 69% of Utah is in severe drought, while 61% of Colorado suffered the same fate.

25. The latest info suggests that the US treats some 70% of the wastewater.

Moreover, this is an average for most developed countries. As we move toward middle-income countries, this percentage decreases by almost double.

Depending on the income, the percentage can range from 28% to 38%. Finally, those least developed countries have the lowest rate of only 8%.

26. The United States is the largest industrial water user, withdrawing over 300 billion m3 per year.

(Our World in Data)

According to the latest water conservation facts and statistics, this is significantly more than in China which uses 140 billion m3 for industrial purposes.

These rates are notably lower in the least developed countries of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Industrial use of water is diverse and varies from steam engines and dilution to manufacturing plants. Besides that, nuclear power plants and fossil fuel production use a lot of water.

Water Conservation Statistics 3

Global Water Wastage and Water Conservation Statistics 

27. Diarrhea caused by inadequate sanitation and lack of clean water kills 2,195 children worldwide every day.

It’s a shocking fact because this is more than the number of children killed by AIDS, measles, and malaria combined.

To clarify, this means that one in nine children worldwide dies because of diarrhea. Out of the total number, some 88% die due to unsafe water and poor sanitation services. 

The leading cause of death from diarrhea is dehydration and loss of body water. 

28. Six countries hold around 45% of the world’s water supply.

Although this is supposed to be a fun fact about water conservation, it demonstrates the uneven distribution of freshwater globally.

The largest concentration of water on Earth is near large lakes or river basins — the Great Lakes, Tanganyika, Baikal, Lake Victoria, Amazon, Yangtze, Orinoco, and Congo.

The country with the most freshwater reserves is Brazil (15%). Second is Russia (8%), followed by the US and Canada (6%). Finally, China has only 5% of freshwater supplies.

29. Croatia is the leading country in Europe with the biggest drinking water reserves of 28,800 m3 per inhabitant.

In fact, the country has an estimated 9.2 billion m3 of underground water resources alone.

Next on the list are two Nordic countries — Finland with 20,000 m3 and Sweden with 19,300 m3 per inhabitant.

Facts about saving water in the EU vary depending on the country, from 157 m3 used per person in Greece to 30 m3 in Malta.

30. Nairobi’s water supply system lost around 40% of the water supply due to leakage in 2019.

Therefore, the people of Nairobi had to purchase water from the infamous water tankers (mkokoteni). The price of this water tends to be ten times higher than the one from the government supplies.

However, water facts from 2019 show that, even without leakage, it wouldn’t be possible to meet the ever-growing city’s demands with more than 4 million inhabitants.

31. Nearly 14.1% of rural Latin America and the Caribbean region lacked access to drinking water in 2019.

Compared to the urban population (1.9%), this is a tremendous gap. Based on the same data, around 68.4% of the rural population used basic sanitation, compared to 90% in urban zones.

The situation seems to be most serious in rural areas of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

In the same way, less than 50% of LAC communities practiced water system disinfection due to the lack of infrastructure.

32. Most recent stats show that 80% of groundwater in China’s major rivers isn’t suitable for human use.

Continuous failure to prevent pollution from various industries is causing true ecocide and destruction of this resource.

In fact, statistics regarding water conservation and pollution show that most of these rivers can’t support aquatic life anymore.

In Beijing, 39.9% of water was so polluted that it was essentially useless. Moving north to Tianjin, the situation gets much, much worse with only 4.9% of drinkable water.

33. In 2020, nearly 80% of India’s water was dangerously polluted, making it undrinkable.

Lack of awareness and throwing garbage and raw sewage into lakes and rivers have led to this catastrophic situation with soil and water, conservation facts confirm.

India’s growing slum population and the absence of pipelines made way for tanker mafias that sell clean water from lakes and wells. This practice accelerated the reduction of these precious reserves.

Similarly, untreated waste and poor sanitation are drivers of water pollution.

34. Around 90% of glaciers in the Alps will disappear by the end of the century.

The latest climate change statistics are compelling — Europe will lose its crown represented in the form of glaciers in the Alps.

And it’s not stopping there. Water conservation graphs and statistics imply that glaciers globally decline five times faster because of global warming, losing 369 billion tons of snow and ice.

Glaciers are some of the biggest water reservoirs, accumulating hundreds of tons of frozen freshwater.

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Top Water Conservation Methods 

35. Installing energy-efficient toilets can lessen water usage by up to 60%.

The best way to preserve valuable water and not waste it is to install an energy-efficient toilet.

For instance, people flush approximately 20 gallons of water per day down the toilet. Unlike a regular toilet that consumes 1.6 gallons per flush, a high-efficient toilet spends only 1.28. This means it could save 13,000 gallons annually.

36. Newer washing machine models spend 23 gallons of water per load, unlike older models that consume 41 gallons.

One of the best water conservation tips is to use a newer model of a washing machine. For washing five loads of clothes a week, older models consume 10,660 gallons of water a year, while newer models spend 5,980 gallons yearly.

37. By fixing the leaks in your household, you can save up to 10,000 gallons of water per year.

According to the EPA water conservation statistics, 10% of households in the US account for 90 gallons of water waste per day.

The most basic types of leaks are rusty pipes, dripping faucets, and other fittings and valves. Fixing them not only helps conserve water but also saves 10% on each water bill.

38. By using a hose only for rinsing a car, we can save up to 100 gallons of water.

A bucket and a sponge can significantly help with saving water while washing a car.

The best way is to use a hose only for rinsing the soapy water. If the hose has a special attachment that controls the amount of water, it can also help a lot.

In fact, it will take only three buckets of water to clean a car, and in the process, we will not waste 100 gallons.

39. Taking a 10-minute shower saves 15 gallons of water.

This interesting fact about water conservation shows that it takes around 70 gallons of water to fill a bathtub, which is several times more than an average shower.

If we add the low-flow showerhead, we can save up even more. Federal regulations in the US even mandate that the typical showerhead has a maximum flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute.

40. Energy Star dishwashers use approximately four gallons of water per load — less than standard ones.

For instance, a regular dishwasher spends six gallons per load. It is still better than the 20 gallons we use when washing the dishes by hand.

Typically, dishwashing is responsible for less than 2% of household water use. Water saving statistics show that water-efficient dishwashers can still make a difference and save up to 5,000 gallons of water annually.

41. People can save up to 30% of water if they have efficient home appliances and plumbing systems.

Installing the so-called smart appliances with the WaterSense label that guarantees water consumption efficiency means going that extra mile. These products bear a certificate of proven energy efficiency.

Besides smart appliances, educating your household members on the importance of water preservation plays a key role.

Moreover, water conservation facts for kids would help you educate the younger members of your family, especially since they are naturally keen on environmental protection.

42. WaterSense-certified appliances could save $70 on water and electricity costs, plus prevent waste of over 2,700 gallons of water per year.

To illustrate it better, we will say that this equals the amount of water needed for 88 loads of laundry. 

Hence, these water conservation facts and tips could help a great deal.

That’s because products wearing the WaterSense label have to be 20% more water-efficient. It’s pretty easy to spot these products, as they are all wearing a mark.

Water Shortages: Near Future or Far From Reality?

Given the above facts about water conservation, we have to stop and ask ourselves how much water we have left. It is one of the Earth’s priceless treasures we are uncontrollably consuming and wasting until we reach a point where there is no going back.

If current trends continue, two-thirds of the world will experience water scarcity in only five years. By 2050, six billion people would suffer from a lack of clean water. For reference, Earth currently has 7.8 billion inhabitants.

For this reason, we have to think about how each of us can contribute and prevent the permanent loss of this invaluable resource. Because we are made of water, there is no human life without it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much water is wasted every year in the world?

According to the US Geological Survey’s latest statistics, consumers (both individuals and industries) waste approximately 1.7 trillion gallons of water per year.

Data on how much water is wasted globally shows that the average American spends 100 gallons per day.

This excessive usage emphasizes the importance of its preservation, as some parts of the world are experiencing extreme water scarcity problems that are about to get worse. Namely, 14 of the world’s 20 megacities lack clean water because of severe droughts.

Which country wastes the most water?

The newest stats show that the country with the highest water consumption rate is China. This giant spends over 362 trillion gallons of water each year. The United States follows it with 216 trillion.

Asia is the most “careless” continent concerning water wastage, statistics show. According to the data, agriculture has the biggest water footprint of all industries. And Asia is big on agriculture because of its ever-growing population.

Asian farmers are used to the low prices of water. Therefore, governments have problems with raising prices and effectively regulating water consumption.

What is the biggest use of water in the US?

The latest info suggests that thermoelectric power and irrigation are the largest water consumers. The first withdraws around 133 Bgal/d, while the second accounts for 118 Bgal/d.

Following these two, 290 Bgal/d of the US water usage goes to public supply, and 14.8 Bgal/d to industrial withdrawal.

Mining accounts for around 1% of total water consumption, while 2 Bgal/d fulfills livestock needs.

What is the single biggest user of water worldwide?

Agriculture is the major consumer of the world’s freshwater. Some 70% of the freshwater goes to agriculture worldwide, even up to 90% in developing countries.

Crops and irrigated fields cover about 20% of the cultivated land. On top of that, the growing need for food will increase water consumption even more, and the world will need 36% more food and 13% more water by 2030.

Another big user of water is the power-producing industry. For instance, the average person uses 670 gallons of water a day for electricity production in the United States.

What is the biggest consumer of water?

The average American household spends roughly 138 gallons of water per day. The main percentage of that goes to flushing the toilet — around 30%.

Moreover, water conservation statistics show that the largest household water percentage is used for showering and bathing (together 23%).

In addition to that, one of the main “consumers” of water in the household is leaking. Around 13% of water (or 18 gallons) can leak away daily from faucets, toilets, or other appliances.