How we deal with the resource

Today we still do not handle water in a sustainable way. 

Many places barely manage to maintain their infrastructures, water use is often anything but efficient, the ground-water level usually sinks, and the water quality is often inadequate. Moreover, in many industrial countries there is too little awareness among people that water is a valuable commodity – a prerequisite for handling the resource in a sustainable way.

The largest consumer and waster of water worldwide is agriculture – which accounts for 70 percent of all the resources used. Sadly, more than half of that volume is lost through inefficient irrigation.

Industry uses 22 percent, while only 8 percent flows into households..

In terms of total water consumption, the level of water required by private households plays a somewhat secondary role, albeit with great differences from one country or region to the next. Some countries use up to 90 percent of their water for agricultural purposes, while in Germany the level is only 3 percent.

In Spain, water supplies are becoming scant. Golf tourism there consumes a similar amount of water to that of a small city with 15,000 inhabitants. Great Britain has even had to resort to water rationing. The country has a wealth of water resources. Nevertheless in Spring 2006 water was rationed in Greater London. Why? Because the water channeling systems – and in part it dates from the Victorian era – have so many porous pipes that up to 30 percent of the water pumped through them seeped away unused.

In many places water supplies are being eaten into so fast that we are seeing a continuous decline in ground-water levels. Eventually the reservoirs will dry up. Increasing the efficiency of watering by about 15 percent worldwide would already suffice to cover the entire communal water demand.

The examples show: Everything is relative.