Water is vital to every being. It’s a necessity to survive and to function. Almost every necessity humans need daily requires water to either operate or to be produced. It’s safe to say that water is a part of basically everything we use, from transportation to eating, and everything else in between.
Most water-consuming activity
You may be surprised or not, but the answer would be the agricultural industry. A huge portion of the world’s limited water resources goes to agriculture. As a matter of fact, 2.5% of the earth’s water is freshwater and 70% of all freshwater goes to this industry alone.
The agriculture industry is aware of their negative impact on the world’s resources and has then actively made efforts to limit its water usage in the form of 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 implemented by the farmers is the implementation of technologies that aims to schedule watering of crops strategically. Specifically, during the time when evaporation and water loss are most minimized. Thankfully, these efforts can help save 80% more water when compared to more traditional methods.
If you do not know yet, consumptive is what we call any water that is utilized but not recycled. On the other hand, non-consumptive is any water that is recycled after use. Obviously, we are hoping to have more non-consumptive water for sustainability purposes.
Different industries and their water use
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? Add to that the fact that overhead sprinklers need to use more 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 the 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.
Aquaculture is just like agriculture but 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. 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.
Now this industry accounts for around 15% of water use globally. From power plants to oil refineries, the 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!
Just count the times you use water in a day: the water you drink, use for cooking, for flushing 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 world of difference when added up! Be a responsible consumer!
Some recreational activities that make use of water are swimming, boating, and fishing. This may be a surprise to 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 that 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 man-made lakes and fish ladders to help fish spawn. Thankfully, this industry’s use of water is mostly non-consumptive as well!
While you may think that the depleting water supply does not affect you, think again! The things you do today may impact the world the next generation will live in and that includes 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!