You’ve been told before that water is important to society…but, have you been told the exact reasons why?
In this guide, we outline some of the most important reasons.
Summary – Why Water Is So Important To Society
- The reality is – there is a water footprint (the direct and indirect water it takes to produce, supply something from start to finish) for everything you do
- Water is used across all aspects of society, and those countries who don’t have access to clean and safe fresh water experience all sorts of serious problems
- Water comes in two main types – potable (drinking water), and non potable
- Water comes from various sources depending on the city – dams, ground water aquifers, lakes/rivers and lately desalination plants, are some of the main sources various developed countries use
- Water is used broadly across the agricultural, industrial and municipal (household) levels of society
An obvious reason why we need water – to drink.
Drinking water should meet certain safety and quality standards set out in regulations and guidelines in a particular state/province or country.
Some countries and states can have contamination or safety issues with their public drinking water supply.
Although access to drinking water has improved for many people worldwide since 1990, the fact remains that:
- 785 million people lack even a basic drinking-water service, including 144 million people who are dependent on surface water.
- Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with faeces
Countries and regions that lack access to clean and safe drinking water face severe health and social problems.
Children are particularly at risk of sickness, disease and death in these places.
Health, Hygiene and Sanitation
Washing and human waste are key components of health, hygiene and sanitation.
We need water for showers, baths, toilets, taps, and so on.
Developed countries tend not to have an issue with this, apart from those with contaminated public water supplies.
Lesser developed regions of the world are a different story though:
- In least developed countries, 22% of health care facilities have no water service, 21% no sanitation service, and 22% no waste management service
- 74% of the world’s population (5.5 billion people) used at least a basic sanitation service.
- 2.0 billion people still do not have basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines.
- Of these, 673 million still defecate in the open, for example in street gutters, behind bushes or into open bodies of water.
Spread of disease and sickness is huge in countries and regions without proper water supplies for health, hygiene and sanitation.
In most countries, irrigation for agriculture uses a majority of the annual fresh water consumption.
Food and fibers like livestock, crops, and cotton are some of the main consumers of water supplies.
Dry climates particularly rely on irrigation as they don’t usually have the rainfall levels required for rain fed farming.
Part of the industrial sector (the industrial sector, and electricity generation are usually the second biggest consumers of water, but can be equal to agriculture or slightly more in some countries.)
Some people don’t realise that the electricity we use can take a lot of water to produce.
Thermal plants usually have cooling towers that use water to cool the steam that passes through and spins the turbines.
But, newer cooling systems are making use of dry cooling, and lower water use technology, or even recycled or alternate water use methods. Some use air cooling too.
Manufacturing cars requires more water usage than most other products.
Water is also used at various points in the petroleum sourcing and refining process.
Water is also used to clean, service and repair cars and other vehicles.
Other Areas & Sectors That Use Water
Mining, construction, textiles, government, raw material production and supply, and many other sectors use water in everyday society.
It’s accurate to say all successful and healthy communities and countries need fresh water.
3. Various Better Meets Reality Water Guides