Facts & figures
2.3 billion people live in water-stressed countries, of which 733 million live in high and critically water-stressed countries.
3.2 billion people live in agricultural areas with high to very high water shortages or scarcity, of whom 1.2 billion people – roughly one-sixth of the world’s population – live in severely water-constrained agricultural areas.
Today, 1.42 billion people – including 450 million children – live in areas of high or extremely high water vulnerability.
About 4 billion people, representing nearly two-thirds of the global population, experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year.
(Mekonnen and Hoekstra, 2016)
72% of all water withdrawals are used by agriculture, 16% by municipalities for households and services, and 12% by industries.
86% of people in urban areas have safely managed drinking water services, but only 60% of people rural areas have them. Safely managed sanitation services reach 62% of the world’s urban population but only 44% of the rural population.
When a territory withdraws 25% or more of its renewable freshwater resources it is said to be ‘water-stressed’. Five out of 11 regions have water stress values above 25%, including two regions with high water stress and one with extreme water stress.
More than 80% of the world’s wastewater flows back into the environment without being treated or reused. In some least-developed countries, this figure tops 95%.
Water pollution is a key challenge to river systems in cities - from both point and non-point sources.
Point Source Pollution
Point sources release pollutants from discrete conveyances, such as a discharge pipe, and are regulated by federal and state agencies. The main point source dischargers are factories and sewage treatment plants, which release treated wastewater. Pollution from point sources includes waste water from a tributary drain, sewage draining and gray water, industrial effluents and wastewater.
Nonpoint Source Pollution
Nonpoint source pollution is a combination of pollutants from a large area rather than from specific identifiable sources such as discharge pipes. Runoff is generally associated with nonpoint source pollution, as water is emptied into streams or rivers after accumulating contaminants from sources like gardens, parking lots or construction sites. Water pollution linked to non-point sources includes urban stormwater runoff, solid waste and debris, pollution from agricultural fertilizers and chemicals, and erosion resulting from deforestation.