From using to abusing: drinking water is becoming scarcer
The United Nations estimates that demand for drinking water will rise by 55 per cent by the year 2050. Even today, one in ten people have no access to clean water. Five facts and challenges on the issue of drinking water wastage.
Cultivation of crops
Agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of global water consumption. Over half of this water is used for just four crops: rice, cotton, sugar cane and wheat. In many dry regions of the world, crops are grown which require a great deal of water, such as early strawberries in Spain and arable crops on the Arabian Peninsula. This is not very efficient.
Professor Brahma Chellaney from the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi has now called upon all countries with a water shortage to cease production of water-intensive crops.
Livestock production accounts for one third of all water used in agriculture. Most of this goes into feed production – according to the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), one kilogram of beef requires no less than 15,500 litres. That’s enough water to fill a small swimming pool. Moreover, industrial mass production of livestock pollutes groundwater, since dangerous nitrates and antibiotics leach into the soil from manure.
Environmental and food organisations are calling upon people – particularly those in the northern hemisphere – to eat less meat. In Germany, the average person consumes an average of 88.3 kilograms of meat a year – that is over twice the recommended amount: environmentally friendly and health-promoting consumption is less than 31 kilograms per year.
20 per cent of the world’s available freshwater is used by industry in processes such as crude oil production, power station cooling and paper manufacturing. No less than 10 litres of water are required to produce a single sheet of A4 paper.
Every company and each individual should use recycled paper as opposed to fresh fibre paper and so save up to 70 per cent of water. The United Nations also advocates the construction of fewer coal-fired, nuclear and gas-fired power stations and to invest instead in renewable energies such as solar and wind, in order to reduce water consumption.
Domestic homes also consume a lot of water – as much as 190 litres per person per day in Germany. Although Germany has no shortage of water, it is still worth limiting personal consumption. So you can not only save water but also energy: When less water is heated, less energy is consumed. Water pollution should also be limited, because the cleaner the water stays, the less expensive and energy-intensive its recycling in wastewater treatment plants. With regard to water conumption, a quick shower is better than filling a whole bathtub with hot water.
Video on World Water Day 2017: Why waste water?
Currently 80 per cent of global wastewater goes untreated. For this reason environmental organisations are calling for significant improvements to water management. The United Nations goes further still: on World Water Day 2017 it called for people to see wastewater in a new light – as a source of energy.
With the help of bacteria-like microorganisms, wastewater and solid waste can already be used to generate biogas for heating – as is the case with a housing development of 200 homes in Noorderhoek in the Netherlands. Dutch scientist Mark van Loosdrecht has also developed a technology that uses microorganisms to treat wastewater so it can be reused as drinking water.