We know that industrial water consumption places a great deal of strain on the world’s limited water supply. In fact, the agricultural and industrial sectors account for approximately 90 percent of direct water withdrawals.
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Why Should We Care?
The Water Resources Group, an arm of the World Bank, says that water demand is expected to exceed current supply by 40 percent by 2030 – that is just ten years away. Competition between communities and countries for scarce water resources is increasing, especially as climate change is exacerbating risk and unpredictability. Water scarcity is also caused by water resource mismanagement.
Which Industries Consume The Most Water?
- Fruit and Vegetable Farming - Although meat farming is often targeted as the most intensive sector for energy and carbon, it is actually lower on the list compared to grain, fruit, and vegetable farming. Some of the thirstiest crops include wheat, corn, rice, cotton, and sugarcane.
- Garments and Textiles - The garment and textile industry is one of the most water-intensive industries in the world. In fact, creating a single pair of jeans requires close to 7600 litres of water. Water is primarily used for the fabric dyeing process as well as “wet processing”.
- Meat Production - The industrial meat production complex uses a lot of water, almost a third of the water footprint of total agricultural production.
- Beverage Industry - The beverage sector produces juices, sodas, beers, and a range of other drinks. Along with the water required in the liquids themselves, the additives add a water-intensive agricultural aspect (the industry requires farmed products such as barley, sugar, coffee, fruit etc.) According to the Water Footprint Network, it takes between 680 and 1241 litres to produce a 2 litre bottle of soda, 75 litres of water to make a pint of beer, and 140 litres of water to produce the ingredients to make a single cup of coffee.
- Automotive Manufacturing - It takes a staggering 147631 litres to produce the average domestic vehicle. In the automotive industry, major water use occurs in surface treatment and coating, air conditioning systems, and boilers.
How does England’s water consumption compare with the rest of the world?
According to National Water Footprint Accounts, these are the top 10 water using countries around the world:
- China - 362 trillion gallons annually
- United States - 216 trillion gallons annually
- Brazil - 95 trillion gallons annually
- Russia - 71 trillion gallons annually
- Mexico - 53 trillion gallons annually
- India - 30 trillion gallons annually
- England - 20 trillion gallons annually
- France - 20 trillion gallons annually
- Canada - 19 trillion gallons annually
- Australia - 12 trillion gallons annually
How Can Industries Reduce Water Consumption?
- Smart technology and irrigation management - This includes utilizing sensor technology and satellite imagery to identify where water is needed and where water is being wasted.
- Better supply chain procurement and management - You choose suppliers and farmers that use sustainable agricultural practices.