An Introduction to Global Water Wastage

An Introduction to Global Water Wastage

The globe's use of water has an impact on the environment.

There are many aspects of daily living that have the power to impact the environment negatively. When taking into account every household, business and service, these factors then have the power to increase environmental damage on a momentous, global scale.

Water waste is just one example of a damaging environmental factor, but it's an extremely significant one. It's very important for individuals, households and businesses alike to understand the impact of water waste on the environment so that the world at large can work to a more sustainable future.

What is Water Wastage and How Does It Occur?

When talking about water waste, this can reference a few key areas. The water waste from a community of people is more commonly known as sewage. Household (or other buildings) wastewater can include the waste from toilets or from actions such as draining kitchen sinks.

Simply using too much water can very easily be done by anyone. Running a very long shower, loading your washing machine too regularly or leaving the tap running when brushing your teeth are all examples of how easy it is to waste this valuable resource.

In regard to sewage and wastewater from your pipes, damaging chemicals or cleaning products may be drained through your pipes, you may be using your sewage system too often, or it's always possible that large water treatment companies are not managing wastewater services in the best way to protect the environment.

What is the Impact of Wastewater on the Environment?

When considering the damage wastewater is capable of, the biggest threats to the environment are contamination and pollution. If sewage is not treated appropriately before being disposed of it, it can contaminate water and thereby put wildlife at great risk.

Furthermore, wastewater dispersed through flooding or leaks means that completely untreated water can enter water sources and pollute them.

The process of treating wastewater also requires fossil fuels. This means that wastewater treatment has the potential to increase carbon footprint and air quality.

Global Water Wastage Statistics

When considering the situation of water wastage and the earth's future, it's important to take into account daily water use and habits within other countries around the world. With these statistics, you can better understand how your own country (and therefore your own effort) is faring in comparison to other countries.

These statistics can show a shocking difference between water use statistics based on different countries. his is an important reminder of how all countries across the world need to work cohesively to lower water wastage and help save the environment. We're all living on the same planet, after all.

Below are the statistics of daily water used on average by individuals in liters in each country.

USA 373

Japan 286.5

China 178

Australia 340

New Zealand 250-300

UK 142

Mexico 5.419

Germany 121

France 150

Belgium 7.406

Brazil 108

Kenya 50

Norway 180

Canada 329

Italy 6,500

Portugal 6,203

Spain 132

Russia 279

Israel 100-230

Belgium is the biggest daily consumer of water on average by individuals, with 7.406 liters. Kenya is the smallest daily consumer, with 50 liters.

You might expect that the country to house the biggest water consumption on a daily basis would be the country to have the largest population: but China, which does have the world's largest population, has a smaller daily water consumption than Belgium.

It just goes to show how each individual's water usage can make a significant difference.

Countries such as Kenya are often struggling with a water crisis, which throws into sharp relief how valuable a commodity like water is. For countries on this list using a high amount of daily water, countries like Kenya, in comparison, are using very little simply because they do not have access to safe water.

It's now more important than ever to preserve the water that the world does have.

Summarizing Points for Global Wastewater Production, Collection, Treatment, and Reuse

Below are some key facts and statistics in regard to wastewater. This is to help you better understand what happens to your wastewater when it leaves your home or business, is collected, and is treated. This entire process has the potential to affect the environment in a significant way.

Approximately 63 percent of globally produced wastewater is collected. Approximately 52 percent of globally produced wastewater is treated. Approximately 84 percent of collected wastewater undergoes a treatment process. The percentage of wastewater reuse is approximately 11 percent of total wastewater. Approximately 22 percent of treated wastewater goes through intentional reuse. Approximately 84 percent is released into the environment. (View Statistics here.)

There are significant differences in wastewater production, collection, treatment and reuse across different geographical regions. These differences can also be based on the level of economic development.

As you can see, not all wastewater is capable of being treated and reused to reap the benefits. If only 63 percent of globally produced wastewater is collected, the remaining 37 percent percent is failing to be collected, therefore putting the environment at risk.

6 Key Water and Water Waste Facts

  • Only one percent of the world's water is safe for us to consume. This highlights just how precious a resource like water is and what wasting any of this one percent could do.
  • It's possible for five gallons of water to be wasted simply by leaving the tap on when you're brushing your teeth.
  • Twenty-seven percent of a household's water is used for showers and baths. Think how much water can then be wasted by constantly taking baths, having very long showers, or more than one shower a day.
  • Around 3.5 gallons of water is used for a single toilet flush.
  • Washing machines can use around 40 gallons of water per load.
  • Around 9,400 gallons of water can be wasted through water leaks, based on US figures.

Predictions for the Future

When it comes to the future of the environment on a global scale, the future may appear very bleak in terms of global warming and natural pollution if individuals do not try and make a positive difference today.

In terms of water consumption and supply, key predictions for the future can include:

  • A growing world population will significantly increase the demand for water supply.
  • Areas of the world that are already seeing difficulty in freshwater supply may have this situation worsen.
  • An estimated 1.8 billion people will suffer from water shortage in their area by 2025.
  • By 2025, that means two-thirds of the global population will be living in regions of high water stress.
  • The global agriculture market will require another one trillion cubic meters of water annually if the increase in population continues to the estimated one billion more mouths to feed by 2025.
  • The number of nations expected to be water scarce has increased; this is now projected to be 30 nations by 2025, increased by ten since 1990.
  • Global warming will only worsen the water supply situation.
  • If current trends don't see any drastic change, the world will only have 60 percent of its necessary water supply in 2030.

Conservation and Sustainability Efforts

Being more conservative and sustainable with water usage is the key to making a positive difference to the current water situation that is facing the world. While plenty of people are already taking action, word must be spread about the importance of not wasting water to ensure people start taking action.

There are three main types of sustainability efforts. They come in the form of:

  1. Rules and regulations set by countries
  2. Campaigns to Conserve the Use of Water
  3. Government Initiatives and Schemes

Each sustainability effort will approach this in its own way, but knowing the different efforts out there that you could support is crucial.

Wastewater Rules and Regulations Across the World

Counties worldwide are already putting in place effective water solutions. Take a look at the facts below to give you a better idea of who has had the most success so far and what regulations countries must follow.

  • Based on performance ranking, the top five countries in the world which have the most effective wastewater treatment programs are Malta (100 score), Netherlands (99.9 score), Luxembourg (99.76 score), Spain (99.71 score), and Switzerland (99.67 score).
  • Namibia is the only country that uses recycled water for direct potable use.
  • The Council Directive 91/271/EEC, set out in 1991, states the official regulations for all members of the European Union in regard to wastewater management. This directive's aim is to protect the environment, and outlines rules such as monitoring the performance of treatment plants, required secondary water treatment, and the collection of water in populations less than 2000, to name a few.

What You Can Do to Waste Less Water

Protecting the environment starts at home. It's extremely important to make active efforts to change your water waste habits. It may seem like an impossible task or a big responsibility when you're viewing the state of the world, but always remember that even the simplest changes you make at home can make a positive difference — and that's just for one person living alone. A family of 4 which develops the same water improvement habits, for example, can make even more of a difference within the same household. It's also important to support other household members, or people you know, in water-saving habits. Always share any information or tips you have, including the ones listed here.

Some ways you can waste less water include:

Install low-flow systems, such as showerheads

Many people opt for a bathroom overhaul or renovation project, so why not make it one which benefits your water consumption, too? Make your home as eco-friendly as possible when it comes to your plumbing.

Not only do low-flow systems help you to preserve water, but they also mean you can save money on your energy bills.

What low flow means is reduced water pressure in order to save as much water as possible. Low flow is particularly beneficial for busy households which see a lot of bathroom traffic.

Take shorter showers and half-full baths

Be more mindful about why you're taking a long shower. It's easily done, especially during winter months, to take a longer, hotter shower. Some people may even decide to multi-task and try brushing their teeth in the shower! Others may put the shower on to get the water running whilst sorting laundry or attending to other bathroom tasks.

Eliminate this excess water waste by turning the shower on when you're ready to get in and limiting your shower to a few minutes.

In regard to baths, if you're taking a quick bath for basic hygiene, you can avoid a completely full bath. If for relaxation, think about limiting your water level by even just an inch or two.

Avoid laundry loads if they are only half full

Laundry can be very difficult to separate and keep on top of, especially within busy households. There may be certain clothing items you desperately need but for which you haven't got enough corresponding clothes or colors to warrant a full load.

Having better organization with your clothing and laundry system will really help. Try to avoid half-full laundry loads. If there are certain clothing items you know you like to wear often, be more organized ahead of time so that you can put items in a full load rather than last-minute half-load panics!

Another tip is to think about the type of materials and colors you're buying. If you have a few delicate items which cannot be used on a normal wash, you might be risking half-full delicate cycles to wash them. Furthermore, you may have a lot more dark colors than you do light, meaning you're forced to run a half-load for your light items only. Avoid this if you can by sticking to colors and materials which can easily be washed together. Let this build up over time so that you eventually have delicate whites in with other white clothes and delicate blacks with colored clothing, which you can put on delicate washes.

Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth

There's no reason for your tap to be on when brushing your teeth, and it's a simple fix that can save a significant amount of water. It's important to let your kids know this, too, if you do have younger family members who brush their teeth without you to supervise.

Turn the tap on when you need a quick burst of water for a refresh, but, otherwise, leave the tap off.

Only fill the sink half-full for washing up

Doing the dishes is another daily chore that becomes normality, and you may not realize that you're wasting water. While you do need to fill up your sink to the optimum level for hygiene purposes and an easier clean, you can make small adjustments

to limit water waste.

If you don't have a lot of items to wash, does it warrant a full sink? Or, if you know you're going to need to fill up your sink with fresh water halfway through because of particularly dirty or stubborn items, can you ensure the first load

is shallow if it's going to be replaced?

Collect rainwater

Doing the dishes is another daily chore that becomes normality, and you may not realize that you're wasting water. While you do need to fill up your sink to the optimum level for hygiene purposes and an easier clean, you can make small adjustments

to limit water waste.

If you don't have a lot of items to wash, does it warrant a full sink? Or, if you know you're going to need to fill up your sink with fresh water halfway through because of particularly dirty or stubborn items, can you ensure the first load

is shallow if it's going to be replaced?

What a Business Can Do to Waste Less Water

Businesses need to try even harder to lower their environmental impact, alongside household habits. Businesses are capable of wasting a significant amount of water, especially those with extremely large premises and lots of employees.

If you're a business manager or owner, here are some things you can do to preserve water:

Have regular water audits conducted

This is essential for preserving water. Being a business leader or owner doesn't mean you'll always know what's best in regard to preserving water. You may not even know the ways in which your business or premises is easily wasting water.

Water audits by professionals can help you to always keep on track and learn about new ways to save on water. This could also help with your business utility bills.

Install water-efficient equipment

This might vary depending on what your business is and what is installed within the premises. Nevertheless, even for the simplest features such as bathroom taps, you can make sure your plumbing and equipment are eco-friendly with water-saving in mind.

This is particularly true of any cafeteria or kitchen equipment you have in the workplace.

Educate employees on water-saving practices

No matter how well-versed the people in charge are in regard to water-saving practices, it can be a large team of employees who have the most negative impact — without knowing it. If you have employees using your premises every day, there is a high amount of potential for water wastage.

It's, therefore, crucial to educate your employees on the importance of an eco-friendly workplace and how they can work to save water on a daily basis. They can then even take these key tips home with them to conduct better practices in their personal life, too. It's much easier for people to develop better water habits when their work life and home life are working hand-in-hand.

Do your research on the best water suppliers

It's always important for businesses to get the best deal when it comes to their water supply, but this is about more than simply the cost. By doing your research on the best water supplier in your area and for your business water demand, you're ensuring you can get the most efficient service with minimal wastage.

Businesses should put a firm focus on good communication for environmental issues, so all employees know what to do within the business premises to preserve water.

If you're not a business leader, but you do work in a business setting, there are good habits you can also adopt as an employee during the working day. Keeping household tips in mind, you can apply the same logic to your work environment.

Is there any way you can collect rainwater on windowsills or outside, which you can then use to water any office plants? Can you ensure you're not overfilling the kettle when making drinks for yourself or the team? If your workplace is one that has an on-site bathroom or changing facility, can you ensure you have short showers?

About the Author

Elizabeth Long is passionate about reducing the negative impact that we have on the environment around us, and learning new ways to sustainably manage our lifestyle. Long favors data-driven articles to help illustrate the scale of the problem for a wider audience.

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