Sustainable Water | Water Conservation

Water conservation can be defined as (1):

  1. Any beneficial reduction in water loss, use or waste and the preservation of water quality.
  2. A reduction in water use thank to the implementation of water conservation or water efficiency measures.
  3. An improved water management practices that reduce or enhance the beneficial use of water. 

The objectives of water conservation include:

  • Sustainability. To ensure availability for future generations of fresh water from an ecosystem. To do so withdrawal from an ecosystem should not exceed its natural replacement rate.
  • Energy conservation. Water pumping, delivery, and wastewater treatment facilities use a significant amount of energy. In some regions of the world more than 15% of total electricity consumption is allocated to water management.
  • Habitat conservation. Minimising human water use helps preserving fresh water habitats for local and migrating wildlife, as well as reducing the need to build new water infrastructures.

Water Conservation Facts: By the Numbers (2)

  • 575 litres: The amount of water per person used by the average American citizen; 30 percent of this is used for outdoor purposes, such as watering the lawn.
  • 149 litres: The amount of water per person used by the average UK citizen.
  • 9.5 litres: The amount of water per person much of the world is allocated.
  • 70 percent: The amount of worldwide water use that is allocated to farming; most of these farming irrigation systems operate at only 40 percent efficiency.
  • 263: The number of rivers that either cross or demarcate international political boundaries, in addition to countless aquifers. According to the Atlas of International Freshwater Agreement, 90 percent of countries in the world must share these water basins with at least one or two other states. Major conflicts such as Darfur have been connected to water shortages, and lack of access to clean water.
  • 88 percent: Of deaths from diarrhoea are caused from unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation; this translates to more than 1.5 million of the 1.9 million children under five who perish from diarrhea each year. This amounts to 18% of all under-five deaths and means that more than 4,000 children are dying every day as a result of diarrhoeal diseases.
  • $11.3 billion: The amount of money required to provide basic levels of service for drinking and waste water in Africa and Asia.
  • $35 billion: the amount of money spent on bottled water in the most developed countries in the world.
  • 1.5 million: Barrels of crude oil used for making PET water bottles, globally. This is enough oil to fuel 100,000 American cars for a year.
  • 2.7 tons: The amount of plastic used to bottle water. 86 percent become garbage or litter.

In the developing world, water can be as precious as gold. Clean water saves lives, and so many will go through every length they can to conserve their water and lessen their use of it. In the developed world, unfortunately we waste water without being aware of that. It’s sometimes a long shower, a dripping tap or an inefficient dishwasher. We can learn from the people who don’t have the luxury of wasting water. If we implemented developing world water-saving techniques in the developed world, we’d save money, be greener and ease pressure on our stressed water resources (3).

Saving Water - What I Learned From The Developing World

1. Appreciate where water comes from
Perhaps the key difference between the developed and developing worlds use of water is the difference in our appreciation of water. The idea of leaving a tap running while brushing your teeth and simply letting water run down the drain would be mind-boggling to people who don’t get enough even to drink a day. Appreciate how awesome water is, and you will find yourself wasting less of it.

2. If water is sacred, what holds it is sacred
Keeping water safe means not wasting a drop, and that means putting a great deal of care into what holds your water. It is not uncommon in the west for gallons of water to be lost both in transit and in households through leaking pipes.

3. Use it when you need it, and only how much you need.
How many times have you used water that you didn’t really need. There are so many ways that you can save water and not affect your quality of life whatsoever. Water your garden at night to save water, and use a watering can instead of a pipe or sprinkler. Wait until your dishwasher is full before turning it on. These are just simple things that you can do that will save water.

More water conservation tips and facts tomorrow for the house and the office.


  1. Geerts, S. and D. Raes (2009). “Deficit irrigation as an on-farm strategy to maximize crop water productivity in dry areas.” Agricultural Water Management 96(9): 1275-1284.
  2. Treehugger (2006). “How to Go Green: Water.” Retrieved 11.11.12, from
  3. Orban, R. (2012). “Saving Water – What I learned From the Developing World.” Retrieved 11.11.12, from

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