Better Goods News

54 Water Wasting Facts That Will Blow Your Mind (2022 Edition)

Jeanne Perrine

Apr 7, 2022

water wastage

Water is a precious resource that sustains human existence and the planet. Yet, water wastage is happening now more than ever, exacerbated by growing populations and industrialization. Water is mainly used for agriculture, industry, and municipal uses globally and this usage has increased nearly six-fold since 1900.

This article depicts water wastage statistics and facts in these three sectors. We hope the statistics and facts will raise awareness about the importance of saving water. Small actions such as turning off the tap while brushing your teeth or fixing leaks can save gallons of water daily.

General

1. According to the 2017 global report from Statista on yearly water consumption per capita, the US is the country that wastes the most water globally.

The average American uses about 42,589 cubic feet of water every year. Canada and Belgium come second, spending 31,183 cubic feet of water yearly per capita (Isakov, 2021).

2. Water waste can make it more difficult for boats to navigate in rivers or lakes.

Shifting of sediment can cause a change in water depth and cause areas to be inaccessible (Diaz, 2020).

3. There are an estimated 240, 000 water main breaks per year in the US.

This wastes over 2 trillion gallons of treated drinking water (Water Products, 2020).

4. Leaks in the New York City water supply system account for 33 to 37 percent million gallons of wasted water per day (Breyer, 2021).

5. Golf tourism greatly affects water withdrawals: an 18-hole golf course can consume more than 2.3 million liters a day.

In the Philippines, water use for tourism threatens paddy cultivation. Tourists in Grenada (Spain) typically use 7 times more water than local people and this discrepancy is common in many developing tourist areas (Cornell, nd).

Residential

6. Waiting to run the dishwasher only when it is full can eliminate one load of dishes per week and save the average American family almost 320 gallons of water per year (USEPA, 2021).

7. If you turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, you can save up to 8 gallons of water per day, and 10 gallons of water per shave, while shaving.

This is assuming you brush your teeth 2 times a day and shave 5 times per week. You can save almost 5700 gallons per year (USEPA, 2021).

8. If you let your faucet run for 5 minutes while washing dishes, 10 gallons of water can be wasted.

It also utilizes enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 18 hours (USEPA, 2021).

9. In the United States, if the average sized lawn is watered for 20 minutes every day for 7 days, that is like running the shower constantly for 4 days or taking more than 800 showers.

That is equivalent to the amount of water required for the average family to take 1 year's worth of showers (USEPA, 2021)

10. The average American utilizes 127% more water than in 1950.

Even though measures are put in place to curtail water usage, the United States' growing population is outmatching those measures and now the rate of water usage is 127% of what it was in 1950. This is aggravated by the fact that about 95% of the water entering a residential property ends up in its drain (Chemtech International, 2020).

12. Landscaping account for about half the water Californians use at home (Seametrics, 2018).

13. The average American household can waste about 9400 gallons of water per year because of household leaks.

According to EPA, American families waste up to 180 gallons every week. This is equivalent to approximately 300 laundry cycles (Isakov, 2021).

14. Globally, every person spends between 80 and 100 gallons of water every day.

These numbers account for indoor water use only and exclude irrigation, gardening, and other outside applications (Isakov, 2021).

15. In America, 50 percent of the water used outdoors is lost due to wind, runoff, and evaporation caused by inefficient irrigation systems and methods.

A household with an automatic landscape irrigation system that is not properly maintained and operated can waste up to 25,000 gallons of water per year (USEPA, 2021).

16. Water wastage results in energy and money wastage.

$113 billion was spent in the US. on water treatment in 2017. Water wastage also causes an increase in taxes and public spending. Energy costs can be saved if communities work together (Diaz, 2020).

17. Wasting water adds stress to water treatment system.

About $298 billion in capital investments will be needed to repair wastewater and stormwater systems in the US. across the next 20 years. Wasting water aggravates the situation (Diaz, 2020).

18. Wasting water damages natural water resources.

Overuse of water puts contamination into natural water sources causing problems for these areas (Diaz, 2020).

19. In the UK, 8.3 million metric tons of food and drinks are discarded in houses every year.

This equates to 64 gallons of water per person per day. 150% more of what a house in the UK uses (Diaz, 2020).

20. In the US. the amount of food wasted is equivalent to 10.5 trillion gallons of water.

This is enough water for 500 million people. That is also 112 pounds of food each month per house of 4 (Diaz, 2020).

31. Older toilets can use 3 gallons of freshwater with every flush while new toilets use as little as 1 gallon (Green, 2011).

22. Using a low flow showerhead can save up to 800 gallons of water per month (Sacramento Suburban Water District, nd)

23. Using toilets as trash cans increase water wastage.

Every time a facial tissue or a feminine product is flushed, 5 to 7 gallons of water is wasted (Len, 2020).

24. Your car uses 150 gallons of water just from one wash.

Cleaning your car a lot hence uses a lot of water (Smith, 2021).

25. Around 22,000 gallons of water are required to fill a standard pool.

Hundreds of these gallons simply evaporate every month. This is why it is important to cover your pool when you are not using it (Smith, 2021).

26. Garden hoses use as much water as your entire household may use in a day.

Make sure you do not use it too often (Smith, 2021).

27. About 75% of indoor home water use occurs in bathrooms and toilets are the single largest water users.

Toilets use over 40% more water than needed (Meath County Council, nd).

28. In the summer, gardening and lawn watering can increase the demand for water by more than 50% (Meath County Council, nd).

29. One lawn sprinkler spraying 19 L per minute uses 50% more water in just 1 hour than 10 toilet flushes, two 5-minute showers, 2 dishwasher loads, and a full load of clothes combined (Meath County Council, nd).

30. 300 L of water is saved just by using a bucket of water to wash your car instead of the hose (Meath County Council, nd).

31. A running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day (Breyer, 2021).

32. Changing how you shave can save up to 60% of the water you would normally use.

Just like teeth brushing, a lot of the waste from shaving comes as people leave faucets running. Instead of letting the water run continuously, it is preferred to fill the sink partially or less, and use that water for shaving (Payless Power, 2022).

33. Grouping plants by water needs and putting them into zones can reduce the chances of wasting water on plants that do not need as much (Payless Power, 2022).

This is especially true if you have a variety of plants.

Industry

34. Reports suggest that nearly 5% of all the United States water withdrawals are used to fuel industry and the production of material goods that Americans stock up on weekly, monthly and yearly ( Think H20, 2022).

35. It takes approximately 100 gallons of water to grow and process a single pound of cotton.

The average American goes through about 35 pounds of new cotton material every year ( Think H20, 2022).

36. It takes 3 liters of water to clean for what provides 1 bottle of drinking water.

This process also releases carbon dioxide into the air (Diaz, 2020).

37. It takes 8000 gallons of water to make a pair of jeans from cottonfield to dyeing (Diaz, 2020).

38. It takes 2.6 gallons of water to make a sheet of paper (Breyer, 2021).

39. 6.3 gallons of water is required to make 17 ounces of plastic (Breyer, 2021).

40. The amount of coal produced globally in 2009 required an estimated 1.3 to 4.5 billion cubic meters of water for extraction and processing.

It required an estimated 840 million cubic meters of water to produce natural gas in 2009 (Pacific Institute, 2014).

41. In developing countries, 70% of industrial waste is dumped untreated into waters where they pollute the usable water supply (Cornell, nd).

Agriculture

42. Agriculture is the number one industry for water waste in the world.

Wheat, corn, rice, and sugarcane crops need large amounts of water. In fact, it takes 400 liters of water to produce one five-pound bag of sugar (Finish, 2020).

43. In 2010, India used the most water per annually for agriculture.

India is popular for topping the agricultural water usage statistics. Moreover, India's water consumption for this purpose doubled from 1975 to 2010. This is due to the rapidly growing population of India which is consequently accompanied by growing demand for food (Isakov, 2021).

44. If food was not wasted in the US., the irrigation water used on this wasted food could meet the food demands of 9 billion people (Diaz, 2020).

45. It takes 13 gallons of water to make one tomato.

It takes 19.5 gallons of water to make 8 ounces of broccoli and around 1 gallon per nut for almond in order for it to grow (Smith, 2021).

46. Over-pumping groundwater contributes to 10% of the world's food production.

A lot of water is required; 3.3 acre feet for feeding one average family (Smith, 2021).

47. 90 gallons of water is required just for one serving of poultry (Smith, 2021).

48. 55 gallons of water is required for every cup of coffee.

Most of this water is wasted on simply growing the beans (Smith, 2021).

49. An acre of corn will give off 4000 gallons of water per day in evaporation (Water Products, 2020).

50. It takes 0.26 gallons of water to irrigate one calorie of food.

Yet it takes 26 gallons for one calorie of food when water is used inefficiently (Breyer, 2021).

51. 924 gallons of water are required to produce 2.2 pounds of rice (Breyer, 2021).

52. It takes 3962 gallons of water to produce 2.2 pounds of beef (Breyer, 2021).

53. It takes more than twice the amount of water to produce coffee than it does to produce tea.

Chicken and goats are the least water-intensive meats to consume (Pacific Institute, 2014).

54. One-third of the world's water consumption is for producing animal products (Loria, 2018).

55. It requires 660 gallons of water to produce 1 hamburger.

This is equivalent to 2 months' worth of showers (Loria, 2018).

56. Around 50% of the world's wetlands present in the 1900s had been lost by the late 1990s, with the conversion of land to agriculture being the principal cause of loss (Cornell, nd).

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways in which water is wasted. Understanding these statistics and the different types of water waste will help us educate others on how to conserve this vital natural resource for future generations. As the global population continues to grow, it becomes more important than ever that we take steps now to ensure sustainable access to drinking water for everyone.

 
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Jeanne Perrine

Jeanne Perrine is a Sustainability Consultant who provides consultancy services in the strategic planning and management of sustainability programs. She holds a master’s degree in Sustainability Science. Jeanne was the first Fulbright Scholar from her home island (Rodrigues) and proudly represented the island during her time in the US. In her free time, Jeanne enjoys a good hike, listening to music, and working out.

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