As part of an effort to cover the basis here at thedirt.org, we are starting with water, see below for some basic facts. If you would like to contribute to this, please Contact Us.
- 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies; approximately one in eight people. (5)
- 3.575 million people die each year from water-related disease. (11)
- The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.(1)
- Poor people living in the slums often pay 5-10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city. (1)
- An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than a typical person in a developing country slum uses in a whole day. (1)
- Only 62% of the world’s population has access to improved sanitation – defined as a sanitation facility that ensures hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact. (5)
- Lack of sanitation is the world’s biggest cause of infection. (9)
- 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation, including 1.2 billion people who have no facilities at all. (5)
- Of the 60 million people added to the world’s towns and cities every year, most occupy impoverished slums and shanty-towns with no sanitation facilities.(8)
- In just one day, more than 200 million hours of women’s time is consumed for the most basic of human needs — collecting water for domestic use.
- This lost productivity is greater than the combined number of hours worked in a week by employees at Wal*Mart, United Parcel Service, McDonald’s, IBM, Target, and Kroger, according to Gary White, co-founder of Water.org.
Millions of women and children spend several hours a day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources. (1)
- A study by the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) of community water and sanitation projects in 88 communities found that projects designed and run with the full participation of women are more sustainable and effective than those that do not. This supports an earlier World Bank study that found that women’s participation was strongly associated with water and sanitation project effectiveness. (7)
- At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. (1)
- The majority of the illness in the world is caused by fecal matter.9
- Almost one-tenth of the global disease burden could be prevented by improving water supply, sanitation, hygiene and management of water resources. Such improvements reduce child mortality and improve health and nutritional status in a sustainable way. (14)
88% of cases of diarrhea worldwide are attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene. (9)
- 90% of all deaths caused by diarrheal diseases are children under 5 years of age, mostly in developing countries. (8)
- It is estimated that improved sanitation facilities could reduce diarrhea-related deaths in young children by more than one-third. If hygiene promotion is added, such as teaching proper hand washing, deaths could be reduced by two thirds. It would also help accelerate economic and social development in countries where sanitation is a major cause of lost work and school days because of illness. (6)
- Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human use. (12)
- More than 80% of sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated, polluting rivers, lakes and coastal areas. (16)
- The UN estimates that by 2025, forty-eight nations, with combined population of 2.8 billion, will face freshwater “stress” or “scarcity”. Our Water.org High School Curriculum
- Agriculture is the largest consumer of freshwater by far: about 70% of all freshwater withdrawals go to irrigated agriculture. (14)
- At home the average American uses between 100 and 175 gallons of water a day. That is less than 25 years ago, but it does not include the amount of water used to feed and clothe us.
- Conserving water helps not only to preserve irreplaceable natural resources, but also to reduce the strain on urban wastewater management systems. Wastewater is costly to treat, and requires continuous investment to ensure that the water we return to our waterways is as clean as possible. Water.org High School curriculum
- Currently, 600,000 miles of our rivers lie behind an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 dams.
- The earth's total allotment of water has a volume of about 344 million cubic miles. Of this:
- 315 million cubic miles (93%) is sea water!
- 9 million cubic miles (2.5%) is in aquifers deep below the earth's surface.
- 7 million cubic miles (2%) is frozen in polar ice caps.
- 53,000 cubic miles of water pass through the planet's lakes and streams.
- 4,000 cubic miles of water is atmospheric moisture.
- 3,400 cubic miles of water are locked within the bodies of living things.
- If all the world's water were fit into a gallon jug, the fresh water available for us to use would equal only about one tablespoon.
- It doesn't take much salt to make water "salty." If one-thousandth (or more) of the weight of water is from salt, then the water is "saline." The cost of desalting sea water in the U.S. ranges from $1 to $16 per 1000 gallons.
- The United States consumes water at twice the rate of other industrialized nations.
- 1.2 Billion — Number of people worldwide who do not have access to clean water.
6.8 Billion — Gallons of water Americans flush down their toilets every day.
- The average single-family home uses 80 gallons of water per person each day in the winter and 120 gallons in the summer. Showering, bathing and using the toilet account for about two-thirds of the average family's water usage.
- The average person needs 2 quarts of water a day.
- During the 20th century, water use increased at double the rate of population growth; while the global population tripled, water use per capita increased by six times.
- On a global average, most freshwater withdrawls—69%—are used for agriculture, while industry accounts for 23% and municipal use (drinking water, bathing and cleaning, and watering plants and grass) just 8%.
- Water used around the house for such things as drinking, cooking, bathing, toilet flushing, washing clothes and dishes, watering lawns and gardens, maintaining swimming pools, and washing cars accounts for only 1% of all the water used in the U.S. each year.
- Eighty percent of the fresh water we use in the U.S. is for irrigating crops and generating thermoelectric-power.
Agriculture & Industry
- More than 87% of the water consumed in Utah is used for agriculture and irrigation.
- Per capita water use in the western U.S. is much higher than in any other region, because of agricultural needs in this arid region. In 1985, daily per capita consumption in Idaho was 22,200 gallons versus 152 gallons in Rhode Island.
- A corn field of one acre gives off 4,000 gallons of water per day in evaporation.
- It takes about 6 gallons of water to grow a single serving of lettuce. More than 2,600 gallons is required to produce a single serving of steak.
- It takes almost 49 gallons of water to produce just one eight-ounce glass of milk. That includes water consumed by the cow and to grow the food she eats, plus water used to process the milk.
- About 6,800 gallons of water is required to grow a day's food for a family of four.
- The average American consumes 1,500 pounds of food each year; 1,000 gallons of water are required to grow and process each pound of that food—1.5 million gallons of water is invested in the food eaten by just one person! This 200,000-cubic-feet-plus of water-per-person would be enough to cover a football field four feet deep.
- About 39,090 gallons of water is needed to make an automobile, tires included.
- Only 7% of the country's landscape is in a riparian zone, only 2% of which still supports riparian vegetation.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimate that 70% of the riparian habitat nationwide has been lost or altered.
- More than 247 million acres of United States' wetlands have been filled, dredged or channelized—an area greater than the size of California, Nevada and Oregon combined.
- Over 90% of the nearly 900,000 acres of riparian areas on Bureau of Land Management land are in degraded condition due to livestock grazing.
- Riparian areas in the West provide habitat for more species of birds than all other western vegetation combined; 80% of neotropical migrant species (mostly songbirds) depend on riparian areas for nesting or migration.
- Of the 1200 species listed as threatened or endangered, 50% depend on rivers and streams.
- One fifth of the world's freshwater fish—2,000 of 10,000 species identified—are endangered, vulnerable, or extinct. In North America, the continent most studied, 67% of all mussels, 51% of crayfish, 40% of amphibians, 37% of fish, and 75% of freshwater mollusks are rare, imperiled, or already gone.
- At least 123 freshwater species became extinct during the 20th century. These include 79 invertebrates, 40 fishes, and 4 amphibians. (There may well have been other species that were never identified.)
- Freshwater animals are disappearing five times faster than land animals.
- In the Pacific Northwest, over 100 stocks and subspecies of salmon and trout have gone extinct and another 200 are at risk due to a host of factors, dams and the loss of riparian habitat being prime factors.
- A 1982 study showed that areas cleared of riparian vegetation in the Midwest had erosion rates of 15 to 60 tons per year.
- One mature tree in a riparian area can filter as much as 200 pounds of nitrates runoff per year.
- At least 9.6 million households and $390 billion in property lie in flood prone areas in the United States. The rate of urban growth in floodplains is approximately twice that of the rest of the country.