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Water Facts


Restricted Access to Water

  • 780 million people live without clean drinking water
  • 2.5 billion people – inluding almost one billion children – live without basic sanitation
  • More than one-third of Africa’s population lacks access to safe drinking water
  • More than 130 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean lack access to safe drinking water
  • Between 15 and 20 percent of the water used worldwide is not for domestic consumption, but rather for export

Water and Disease

  • Every 20 seconds a child under five years of age dies from waterborne illnesses
  • Half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by people with an easily preventable waterborne disease
  • 80 percent of all sickness and disease worldwide is related to contaminated water, according to the World Health Organization
  • Diarrhea killed more children in the last decade than all armed conflicts since the World War II
  • Dirty water kills more children than war, malaria, HIV/AIDS and traffic accidents combined
  • 75 percent of the people in Latin America and the Caribbean suffer from chronic dehydration because of poor water quality

Water Quality

  • 90 percent of wastewater produced in underdeveloped countries is discharged untreated into local waters
  • 80 percent of China’s major rivers are so degraded that they no longer support aquatic life
  • 90 percent of all groundwater systems under major cities in China are contaminated
  • 75 percent of India’s rivers and lakes are so polluted that they should not be used for drinking or bathing
  • 60 percent of rural Russians drink water from contaminated wells
  • 20 percent of all surface water in Europe is seriously threatened

Water Scarcity

  • More than 400 million Africans now live in water-scarce countries
  • Unless we change our ways, two-thirds of the world’s population will face water scarcity by 2025
  • Compared to today, five times as much land is likely to be under “extreme drought” by 2050
  • By 2030, nearly half of the world’s population – the majority living in underdeveloped countries – will be living in areas of high water stress
  • The percentage of the Earth’s land area stricken by serious drought more than doubled between the 1970s and 2005
  • Rapid melting will reduce the Tibetan glaciers by 50 percent every decade, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • More than two-thirds of Chinese cities face water shortages
  • 90 percent of the European alpine glaciers are in retreat

United States

Water Scarcity

  • 18 States are currently facing droughts, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor
  • 40 percent of all U.S. water withdrawals are for export
  • Unless measures are taken, California will demand three times more groundwater than can be supplied over the next 100 years
  • Florida‚ rapid use of groundwater has created thousands of sinkholes that devour anything, houses, cars and shopping malls, unfortunate enough to be built on top of them
  • The Western U.S. is facing its warmest decades in over 500 years
  • In 2007, Lake Superior, the world‚ largest freshwater lake, dropped to its lowest levels in 80 years and the water has receded more than 15 meters from the shoreline
  • Lake Mead, the vast reservoir of the Colorado River, has a 50 percent chance of running dry by 2021

Water Quality

  • 35 percent of U.S. rivers and streams are too dangerous for fishing, or drinking
  • 60 percent of U.S. lakes are too dangerous for swimming or drinking because of massive toxic runoff from industrial farms, intensive livestock operations and the more than 1 billion pounds of industrial weed killer used through the country each year
  • Two-thirds of U.S. estuaries and bays are moderately or severely degraded
  • Four and a half percent of beaches are closed or under advisory at a given time
  • 1.5 million metric tons of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution are carried by the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico every year