What Human Activity Uses the Most Water Worldwide?

by Jay | Last Updated:  Posted on July 19th, 2022

Water is vital to every being. It’s a necessity to survive and function. Almost every necessity humans need daily requires water to either operate or to be produced. So it’s safe to say that water is a part of everything we use, from transportation to eating and everything else.

Most water-consuming activity

You may be surprised or not, but the answer would be the agricultural industry. This is because a huge portion of the world’s limited water resources goes to agriculture. For example, 2.5% of the earth’s water is fresh, and 70% of all freshwater goes to this industry alone. 

The agriculture industry is aware of its negative impact on the world’s resources. It has then actively tried to limit its water usage through advanced irrigation systems, dry farming, and drought-tolerant crops.

While this is appreciated, these efforts may not be enough, especially with the expected increase in population to almost 10 billion people by 2050.

One means by the farmers is implementing technologies that aim to schedule the watering of crops strategically, specifically when evaporation and water loss are most minimized. Thankfully, these efforts can help save 80% more water than traditional methods.

If you do not know yet, consumptive is what we call any water utilized but not recycled. On the other hand, non-consumptive is any water recycled after use. We are hoping to have more non-consumptive water for sustainability purposes.

Different industries and their water use


grass field

It’s easy to think why the agriculture industry consumes so much of the world’s water resources. Just imagine the huge water sprinklers in large fields of crops? The overhead sprinklers need to water than needed because much of the water is lost due to runoff and evaporation. 

Overhead sprinklers and trench irrigation are two of the most famous irrigation methods used by farmers. Trench irrigation systems work by having trench canals carry water from a source to the crops and fields. The two methods are commonly utilized due to their relatively lower cost.


woman in black t-shirt and black shorts standing on brown wooden bridge

Aquaculture is like agriculture for raising fish, shellfish, algae, or aquatic plants. Since the amount and quality of water from lakes, rivers, and oceans are decreasing, aquaculture is becoming a great source for these water animals.

In other words, aquaculture raises fish instead of hunting for them. So the next time you buy your fish supply in the market, check the label! If it says “farm-raised,” it surely is raised via aquaculture.


white smoke coming from factory

Now this industry accounts for around 15% of water use globally. From power plants to oil refineries, water consumption truly is significant. Additionally, manufacturing plants also use water. On a lighter note, hydroelectric power plants are strategically built around rivers for energy generation, and this is a great example of non-consumptive water!


person in blue denim jacket holding stainless steel bottle

Just count the times you use water in a day: the water you drink, use for cooking, flush toilets, and the list goes on and on. So much of our lives are tied to water usage, especially in developed countries. Personal water use accounts for about 15% of water usage worldwide.

There are numerous ways we can turn our water from consumptive to non-consumptive. The little things we can do can make a difference when added up! Be a responsible consumer!


white and brown house near green grass field and lake under white clouds during daytime

Some recreational activities using water are swimming, boating, and fishing. This may surprise you, but even gold is tied with water usage. How? Because the golf course requires water! However, it’s great to note that recreational activities use relatively low amounts of water: less than 1% of global water usage!

Fortunately, most recreational activities have water utilizations that are non-consumptive. This means we can boat, fish, and swim without depleting the water supply. 


For environmental purposes, water is used to create a habitat for wildlife. Specifically for building artificial lakes and fish ladders to help fish spawn. Thankfully, this industry’s use of water is mostly non-consumptive as well!

Save water! 

While you may think the depleting water supply does not affect you, think again! Your actions today may impact the world the next generation will live in, including your children and grandchildren.

We cannot just rely on huge companies to put in effort when we can make it a habit to save water ourselves. A great place to start is by changing your dishwashing and showering habits. Best of luck!


Self assessed Germaphobe, specializing in everything water, water filters, health and nutrition. Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I've acquired immense amount of knowledge when it comes to natural, biology, and everything about human anatomy.