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[EV0401] Topic overview – Rational Water Use


About the topic    

Water distribution on Earth

Humans only have access to 1% of earth water. There is a lack of fresh water since the water available on earth is mainly salty. The absolute majority of the fresh water available is concentrated in glaciers and particularly ice shelves, located in Antarctica or Arctics. Big amount of freshwater is also available in deep groundwaters, which are not accessible for humans. Eventually, accessible fresh water is only surface waters and ground waters that are relatively shallow, available on higher layers of the earth. This amounts to a very small percentage of total available earth water resources.

Different types of water usage

Nowadays all components of our life depend on water. The environment we live in, work and feed, the items we use, creation and functioning of everything  requires water.  For example: electricity we use is mainly based on water resources. Therefore, for the energy sector water is of decisive importance. A lot of water is needed for metallurgy, paper production. agriculture. Water is needed even for computer chip production. Water is a decisive factor in maintaining human health. Hygiene, recreation, production of medicines depend on water. Water is key for cargo transportation. 

Planet’s water resources

Vast amount of the planet is covered with water. 71% of The Earth is covered with water: rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, bogs, glaciers. However, this does not mean that we have plenty of water. In fact the water resources useful for humans are quite limited. Good example for students could be ocean shores of Africa, where the water substance seems a lot, however the water accessible to humans is very few. Therefore, there is a huge water deficit. MOre specifically, the Sahara desert is connected to the ocean, however it is the driest desert with the least amount of water. 

Water as economic output

Our perception, since water is given by nature, therefore should be free is wrong. In fact, the water we use for different purposes is economic output. In order for us to use water in household, we need complex infrastructure which needs buildings for collecting and distributing water, quality assurance and other services. It is logical that we need to pay for receiving such services. However, what happens when we get water directly, without additional infrastructure, i.e. from river, lake, ground water, well and other sources? Can we consider water obtained through these sources should be free? We have to understand that this water is a result of sustainability of a specific ecosystem and it requires care and maintenance. Therefore, paying for water seems logical also in this case. 

Finally,  despite the fact that water is an economic product, since it is a vital factor, we should not have the same approach to water as to other natural resources, i.e. without  forest, iron or gas it is possible to survive, however life without water is impossible..

Access to water as a fundamental human right

It is a fundamental human right to have access to an adequate amount and quality of water. Access to drinking water and sanitation are recognized as fundamental human rights. Access to water and sanitation is of utmost importance to have other fundamental rights, such as the right of living a decent life and self-actualization. 

Fun Facts

  • Did you know that the average EU country citizen uses 200 litres of water per day. In Tbilisi, the average citizen uses 400 litres of water in a day. Those owning a land and a house spend on average 1000 litres per day. 
  • It is considered that water shortage causes poverty. If we don’t have access to water, we can’t develop production, agriculture, high quality healthcare systems. If providing access to water asks for  big investment, this might leave other sectors without financing. 
  •   The major amount of the world cargo is transported via tankers and maritime transport through rivers, seas and oceans. Water transportation is nowadays the cheapest compared to air and land transportation.


Water Deficit

According to UN-Water, more than 2 billion people live in countries where there is a high pressure on water. By 2040 every  fourth child (600millions in total) will live in regions with water shortage. Nowadays, two third of the world population (4 billions) lives in area where at least one month per year there is a water shortage.  

Some of the regions in Georgia, especially East Georgia suffer from the water shortage. 

While the total amount of the water available on Earth remains the same, the distribution of water changes. It is possible for the precipitation to come in a sudden, instead of it to be distributed throughout a certain period. Also, its possible that one part of the earth has a damaging amount of precipitation, whereas the other territories could face the threat of desertification. 

Water Pollution

To overcome water pollution means humans use less household water. The problem is quite massive. Imagine, approximately 700 million people in the world use polluted water. According to the research conducted by  Food & Water Watch, by 2025 approximately 3.5 billion people will experience water shortage. The main cause of this will be water pollution, since the speed of water pollution increases constantly. 

Healthcare and Clean Water

Non-rational consumption of water and  deterioration of world population health – all of these problems are connected to water pollution. According to WHO and UNICEF, approximately 2,5 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation. Polluted water is cause of various illnesses and some of them are hard to recover from; i.e. diarrhea, cholera and etc. 


Protection and maintenance of water resources to eliminate water deficit

Nowadays,  protecting and maintaining water resources is considered as the best strategy for elimination of water deficit. Obviously, with reduced water pollution, more efficient consumption of fresh water, more people will be provided with clean water. 

Leading countries in the world create and deploy different technologies in various spheres of human activity: agriculture, production, household goods, aiming to protect and maintain water resources.

Effective water consumption

Humans need water in order to live in a hygienic, clean environment, maintain good health and have sufficient energy resources and adequate environment for self-actualization. Reducing water consumption means not stopping certain activities, but doing the same activities consuming less water. Modern technologies help us to achieve this objective.  

Various methods of saving water

In household, water-saving methods are: using efficient washing machines, self-closing faucets, well-maintained plumbing system (without water leakage and uninterrupted water supply), smart counters and etc. The household chemicals should be used with caution. Using eco-friendly detergents is encouraged. Information on this is usually available on the packaging of the detergent. 

In agriculture it’s possible to substitute traditional irrigation systems with drip irrigation systems. Drip irrigation yields desired results consuming much less water. Also its important to use chemicals for plants with precaution. Eco-friendly  chemicals should be selected and used in recommended amounts.  

Factories and enterprises use water saving technologies such as closed cycle when water is collected, filtered and used repeatedly. 

In order to reduce water pollution scattering waste into nature should be avoided. Organizing sewage systems, deploying purification facilities and relevant processes to water treatment are nonetheless important. 

Working with Students

  • Analyzing Aral Sea case can be used to promote students’ research skills 
  • Discussing water saving opportunities in different spheres of life
  • Calculating water footprint (using different platforms everyone can calculate its own water footprint. S/he has to input certain information  and receive automatically generated footprint data)
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