Why Is It Important to Save Water?

There is a plentiful, though fixed amount of water on Earth (see Water: Basic Facts). The water on our planet is never lost or consumed, only recycled time and time again as part of The Water Cycle.

So, why should it be important to save water?

Freshwater in short supply

One reason to save water is that water is very unevenly distributed. In theory there is enough on Earth for everyone. However, some regions have more than enough freshwater, while in others there is plainly a shortage. Sufficiency of a local water supply depends largely on how many people there are who need to use it. Densely populated areas, especially large cities, demand more water than sparsely inhabited places. The more people share a limited water source, the greater the need to save water.

Drought

A growing world population worsens the situation: demand for water is rising steadily, which puts more and more pressure on existing water supplies. Fast-growing metropolitan areas are particularly affected. Urbanisation is attracting ever more people to live in cities, making them more crowded and increasing the need to save water in places like these.

Jakarta

Jakarta: one of the world's fastest-growing cities

Another reason to save water is that the kind fit for human consumption isn't readily available. While the quantity of water on Earth is constant, its quality isn't. Water usually requires a lot of treatment before people can drink it safely. In addition, drinking water has to be transported to and from our sinks, toilets and showers. Get more information on why drinking water is precious here.

Save water to save energy

Vast amounts of energy go into producing, processing and transporting drinking water. This is one part of the Water-Energy Nexus: if you save water, you save energy and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at the same time. Water is also used to generate electricity: using less electrical energy (for example to heat water in the shower) means that you save water in turn.

Water and energy are linked together, so even if you live in a region with plenty of water there is good sense in saving it whenever you can, especially warm water: use as much as necessary, and as little as possible.

Growing demand for water, energy and food

Water is also strongly linked to food production. To grow food in places where there is little rainfall, the soil needs to be watered artificially. This is called irrigation.

Irrigation

In the coming decades, demand for water, energy and food is expected to increase as the world's population grows. The links between water, energy and food will therefore grow stronger still. More people need more water as well as more energy, and producing that energy requires water, too. In addition, more water will be needed to produce food, and more food will be necessary to feed more people.

As The Economist wrote in 2009, in future “more water will be needed to feed and heat a world that is already showing signs of using too much. How to square that circle? The answer is by improving the efficiency with which water is used.” 1 One way of improving efficiency is to use less, in other words to save water.

Saving precious drinking water at home, at work and in school is an important first step. Click here for ideas on how to save water and save energy at the same time.


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