Global water withdrawals are projected to increase by 55% through 2050 due to growing demands from manufacturing (400%), thermal electricity generation (140%) and domestic use (130%). The largest proportion of this growth will occur in countries with developing or emerging economies and increasing standards of living, through their greater demand for food, energy and other goods, the production of which can require significant quantities of water. Roughly 75% of all industrial water withdrawals are used for energy production. Groundwater is the primary source of drinking water worldwide: globally, the rate of groundwater abstraction is increasing by 1-2% per year. There is clear evidence that groundwater supplies are diminishing, with an estimated 20% of the world's aquifers being over-exploited, some critically so.
In 2010, 15% of the world’s total water withdrawals – about 583 billion m3 - were used for energy production. Water demand for energy will certainly increase as energy demand is expected to increase by more than one third in the period 2010–2035. Approximately 90% of global power generation is water intensive: water is used directly for hydropower generation as well as for all forms of thermal power generation schemes.
Over 1.4 billion people currently live in river basins where the use of water exceeds minimum recharge levels
Over 1.4 billion people currently live in river basins where the use of water exceeds minimum recharge levels, leading to the desiccation of rivers and depletion of groundwater. In 60% of European cities with more than 100 000 people, groundwater is being used at a faster rate than it can be replenished.
Part of the current pressure on water resources comes from increasing demands for animal feed. Meat production requires 8-10 times more water than cereal production.
The world’s population is growing by about 80 million people a year, implying increased freshwater demand of about 64 billion cubic metres a year. Competition for water exists at all levels and is forecast to increase with demands for water in almost all countries.
70% of the blue water withdrawals at global level go to irrigation. Irrigated agriculture represents 20% of the total cultivated land but contributes 40% of the total food produced worldwide.70% of the blue water withdrawals at global level go to irrigation. Irrigated agriculture represents 20% of the total cultivated land but contributes 40% of the total food produced worldwide.
How the world uses freshwater: • about 70 percent for irrigation • about 20 percent for industry • about 10 percent for domestic use
Water resource management impacts almost all aspects of the economy, in particular, health, food production and security, domestic water supply and sanitation, energy, industry and environmental sustainability.