Domestic Water Use Grew 600% Over the Past 50 Years

Feb 14, 2020

According to World Resources Institute, humanity’s thirst for freshwater has more than doubled since the 1960s, keeping pace with growing populations and economies.  One-quarter of the world now faces extremely high water stress, where more than 80% of the available supply is withdrawn every year.

While agriculture and industry withdraw the overwhelming majority of the world’s freshwater (70% and 19%, respectively), demand from households is also rising precipitously. New data from WRI’s Aqueduct platform shows that domestic water demand grew 600% from 1960-2014, at a significantly faster rate than any other sector.

Since the 1960s, agriculture has remained by far the largest global user of freshwater, though its rate of growth has been slower than other sectors. Demand for water used to grow crops and livestock grew by more than 100% in the last century,  while industrial water demand more than tripled, thanks to rising demand for electricity, fuel and water-intensive goods like textiles.

During this same period, the world’s population grew by more than 4 billion, contributing to the six-fold growth in municipal water use. More people, more homes and growing cities require more water than ever before. We must secure water for the 2.1 billion people who lack accessible, safe drinking water, while using this resource more efficiently to prevent crises and reduce water stress.

What we need to?

  • de-couple Domestic Water Use from Socioeconomic Growth
  • reduce household water use
  • innovate
  • regulate
  • educate
  • consider “Embedded Water”

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