In this guide, we outline some of the major reasons why water is important to society, listing some of the important uses and benefits of water in society.
Summary – Why Water Is So Important To Society
Key Things We Use Water For
Some of the key things we use water for include but aren’t limited to:
– Drinking Water
– Water For Sanitation & Hygiene
– Water For Different Activities At Home
– Water Across The Different Industries & Sectors (such as agriculture and irrigation, industry, and the municipal sector)
– The Environment & Earth’s Ecosystems Also Rely On Water
Key Functions & Benefits Of Water Across Society
– Helps Us Survive
– Helps Keep Us Prevent Illness & Disease (Related Hygiene & Sanitation)
– Helps Us Produce The Products & Services We Need For Everyday Life
– Helps Maintain Or Grow An Economy (i.e. water helps produce economic value), & Has Social Benefits (i.e. socio economic benefits)
– Contributes To Different Functions In Earth’s Ecosystems
What Can Happen In Regions Where Access To Basic Water Services Is An Issue
There can be a range of serious issues in countries and regions that don’t have basic access to drinking water, or basic access the hygiene and sanitations services.
Not only are there health risks in these regions, but the lack of water can make it difficult to improve quality of life across society and grow a stable economy too.
When cities experience water shortages, there can also be some significant negative side effects for those cities and their citizens.
Recent Water Usage Trends, & Projected Future Water Demand
Water is also important as a resource when considering how much water usage has increased over recent history, and how forecasted demand for water is expected to continue increasing into the future
One of the most obvious reasons that water is important is because we drink it.
In particular, clean and safe drinking water also helps regions reduce health and mortality risks associated with unsafe or contaminated water
Children in particular may be at health and mortality risks when there isn’t access to clean and safe drinking water
Drinking water usually has to meet certain water safety and quality standards set out in regulations and guidelines in a particular region.
Water For Hygiene, Sanitation & Cleaning
Water is also critical for hygiene and sanitation, particularly when it comes to using basic toilets, and also washing/cleaning ourselves.
Similar to not having access to clean and safe drinking water, not having access to basic sanitation and hygiene services can put people at increased health and mortality risk.
We also use water for cleaning across a range of applications in society.
Water For Basic Activities & Appliances At Home
We use water for a range of activities at home, such as washing, cleaning, flushing, cooking, and different outdoor uses like watering gardens and lawns, washing cars, and so on.
We even use water indirectly for the electricity we use at home.
Different appliances at home also use water.
Water Use Across The Different Industries & Sectors
The main sectors of society are responsible for water withdrawals are:
In terms of global averages, agriculture is responsible for the most freshwater withdrawals of any sector in society.
Most of these withdrawals might be needed specifically for irrigation (especially in areas where there isn’t much rainfall, or there are dry hot climates).
Foods like beef, and also fibres like cotton, might be some of the most water intensive agricultural products.
– Electricity & Energy Generation
Electricity generation as an industry can be one of the larger water users in society
Thermal plants for example usually have cooling towers that use water to cool the steam that passes through and spins the turbines (although, use of dry cooling and other cooling methods and technology may change some of this in the future)
So, when electricity arrives to our homes and workplaces where we use it, it has an indirect water footprint.
– Other Sectors That Use Water
Transport, mining, construction, textiles, raw material production and supply, and many other sectors and industries use water for a range of activities.
Water is also used for various things across local municipalities across the world
Water Use In Everyday Products & Services
Aside from food, beverages and crops, the everyday products and services we use all have an indirect water footprint.
This water is used indirectly at different stages of the product or service lifecycle before it gets to the consumer
Some products and services also have a direct water footprint at the consumer stage.
Using vehicles as one example of direct and indirect water use in the products and services:
– Cars use a range of materials, and water is used to produce them
– Cars use different fuels, such as petroleum based fuels, which require water to extract fossil fuels, and then to refine fuels too
– Cars use water during operation to clean/wash them, to service them, and there’s also embodied water in tires and other parts of a car that have to be replaced or repaired
Water For Ecosystems, The Environment & Wildlife
Humans rely on Earth’s ecosystems and the environment in several ways.
And, water is critical for the health and natural functions of Earth’s ecosystems, the environment and wild life.
– Aquatic organisms need water free of contamination and pollution to thrive
– Land based animals need clean water to drink
– Plants, forests and vegetation need water to thrive and survive, and usually extract this water from the soil around them
– Soil that has the ability to effectively retain water can be better for agriculture
– Soil is responsible for percolating water into underground water sources
– The hydrological cycle on Earth helps recycle water naturally, via precipitation, transpiration, and condensation
Socio-Economic Importance Of Water
The socio-economic importance of water might come from:
– The use of water for economic activity to both grow and maintain economies
In this guide, we outline some estimations of the economic value that water may help produce in different regions’ economies
– The jobs and income that having adequate water available leads to
– The overall quality of life that water contributes to
Past Water Use Trends, & Future Water Demand Projections
Over the last half century to a century, water use has increased significantly.
Additionally, some reports forecast that water demand will continue to increase in the future, as water use for irrigation increases, energy generation increases, qualities of life increase across developing regions, populations grow, and other factors play a part in future water demand.
These things demonstrate how important water is as a resource.
3. Various ‘Better Meets Reality’ Water Guides