Conserving water

Over the past 100 years, water consumption has steadily risen due to increased demand for water both in people’s homes as well as demand for water for agriculture and industry.

Graph showing how water consumption has steadily risen over the past 100 years across the world.

Purifying water requires a significant amount of energy and money and so people are being advised to reduce their water consumption where possible. Possible methods of doing this include:

  • take short showers instead of longer showers or baths
  • re-use bath or sink water to water plants
  • make sure washing machines/dishwashers are full before use
  • make sure taps are turned off when not in use
  • fix leaky taps
  • install a toilet with a ‘short flush’ setting
  • insulate water pipes to reduce the chance of pipes bursting in the winter months
  • install a water meter to monitor water use

Abstracting water

Abstraction is extracting water from natural sources for human use. There are many methods for abstracting water which include:

  • pumping water from underground
  • building dams and creating reservoirs
  • taking water from rivers/lakes
  • collecting rainwater
  • desalination (removal of salt from seawater)

Some people may be opposed to these methods, especially the creation of reservoirs. These are major projects that flood large areas of land, and so destroy habitats and change the appearance of the area.

Distributing water

Water is abstracted from certain places but the areas where the water is needed may be many miles away. The water must be piped to these areas to provide irrigation for growing crops, water for drinking and water for sanitation.

Distributing water is expensive and many areas of the world do not have access to clean water, especially as some of the driest areas of the world are also the poorest. This water is not only needed for drinking but also to provide irrigation for growing crops to prevent starvation.