Sometimes it’s easy to forget that American really is the land of plenty, especially when it comes to cool, clean water. It comes right out of faucets and spigots with a flick of the wrist. Perhaps it is not surprising that this is not the case in many parts of the world.
What probably is surprising, though, is the amount of clean water used by the United States compared to what is used and is available in the rest of the world.
United States Water Use
According to reports conducted every five years by the United States Geological Survey, the “public supply” usage – which describes potable household water – amounted to 44.2 billion gallons per day in the U.S. in 2005. (Total freshwater use totals came to 410 billion gallons per day.)
The 2006 United Nations Human Development Report, paired this data with their independent assessment of per capita use, which was measured at 152 gallons of water per day by Americans in 2002.
The same UN report indicated that the US topped the charts for per capita water use, with Australia and Italy rounding out the top three consumers.
To provide some perspective, in the same year the citizens of Mozambique used only four gallons of water each per day. Of course, being only an average that meant that a great many Mozambicans went without any water, with disastrous results.
This problem continues and is projected to get far worse. UN-Water predicts that by 2025, 1800 million people will live in absolute water scarcity, and that two-thirds of the world’s population will exist in a state of very limited resources.
It is generally not up to Western citizens to provide water to those who do not have it, even though it has been attempted. The ultimate goal is one of support and education, and providing an example of responsible stewardship in a time when clean water will finally be recognized as the world’s most valuable commodity.