Water Facts

WATER AND EARTH

  • Three-quarters of the Earth's surface is covered with water, yet 98 percent is salt water and not fit for consumption.
  • Less than one percent of all the water on Earth is freshwater available for human consumption.

WATER AND HUMANS

*  The human body is more than 60 percent water. Blood is 92 percent water, the brain and muscles are 75 percent water, and bones are about 22 percent water.

*  A human can survive for a month or more without eating food, but only a week or so without drinking water.

WATER CONSUMPTION

*  3.9 trillion gallons of water are consumed in the United States per month. (AWWA Journal, June 2006)

*  The average American uses 176 gallons of water per day compared to 5 gallons of water the average African family uses each day. (www.water.org)

WATER AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

*  An estimated 2.4 billion people lack adequate sanitation and 1.1 billion people are without access to safe water. (WHO-UNICEF, 2004)

*  90 percent of wastewater in developing countries is discharged into rivers and streams without any treatment. (UNDP,UNEP,World Bank, and the World Resources Institute, "World Resources 2000-2001," pg. 25-26)

* There are 1.6 million deaths per year attributed to dirty water and poor sanitation (World Watch; World Health Organization)

* In the past ten years, diarrhea related to unsanitary water has killed more children than all the people lost to armed conflict since WWII. (WSSCC, 2004)

* At any one time, it is estimated that half the world's hospital beds are occupied with patients suffering from waterborne diseases. (WSCC, 2004)

* The average distance that women in developing countries walk to collect water per day is four miles and the average weight that women carry on their heads is approximately 44 pounds. (WSSCC, 2004)

* Over 40 billion work hours are lost each year in Africa to the need to fetch drinking water. (WHO, 2004)

WATER PRICES

"The price of water is increasing--sometimes dramatically--throughout the world," writes Edwin Clark, II in Earth Policy Institute's latest report. Over the past five years, municipal water rates have increased by an average of 27 percent in the United States, 45 percent in Australia, 50 percent in South Africa, and 58 percent in Canada. In Tunisia, the price of irrigation water increased forufold over a decade. Yet consumers rarely pay the actural cost of water. In fact, many governments practically (and sometimes literally) give water away.

The average American household consumes about 127,400 gallons of water during a year. Homeowners in Washington, DC, pay about $350 for that amount of water. Buying that same amount of water from a vendor in Guatemala City would cost more than $1,700.

The price people pay for water is largely determined by three factors: the cost of transportat from source to user, total demand, and price subsidies. Treatment to remove contaminants also can add to the cost. 

A key step in moving toward more rational water management is to place a price on water that reflects its value and scarcity. Although pricing water at a reasonable cost can generate political problems in the short run, it can lead to substantial efficieinceis in the longer run and eliminate draings on government budgets. Higher prices will lead households, farmers and industries to use water more efficiently. Just as the oil price shocks of the 1970's stimulated energy conservation, so too could pricing water to better reflect its real cost stimulate similar conservation efforts.

Source: Water prices rising worldwide. (2007, Spring). Resource Action Program

WATER AND GOLF COURSES

Number of photos in the January/February issue of Coastal Living that showed coastal wildlife (seabirds, crustaceans, turtles, or other fauna): 1

Number of photos in the same issue showing golf courses: 61

Amount of water it would take, per day, to support 4.7 billion people at the UN daily minimum: 2.5 billion gallons

Amount of water used, per day, to irrigate the world’s golf courses: 2.5 billion gallons

Number of golf courses in Japan before World War II: 23

Number in operation or soon to open in 2004: 3,030

Average amount of pesticides used per acre, per year, on golf courses: 18 pounds

Average amount of pesticides used, per acre, per year, in agriculture: 2.7 pounds

Amount of water used by 60,000 villagers in Thailand, on average, per day: 6,500 cubic meters

Amount of water used by one golf course in Thailand, on average, per day: 6,500 cubic meters

Area that could be covered to a depth of 2 feet with water drawn from the Colorado River by the city of Las Vegas, which uses much of that allotment to water its more than 60 golf courses: 150,000 acres

MISCELLANEOUS 

Current area of the wetlands of the Colorado River Delta, which now receives just 0.1 percent of the river water that once flowed through it: 150,000 acres

Sources: Photos: Coastal Living, January/February 2004; Water usage: Chris Reuther, Know Your Environment, Academy of Natural Sciences, 1999; National Golf Foundation; State of the World 2004; Japan: “Japan Golfcourses and Deforestation,” TED Case #282, 2003; Pesticides: “EcoMall: A Greener Golf Course, 2004;” Thailand: U.K. Sports Turf Research Institute; Colorado River: Environmental Defense; Las Vegas: Associated Press.