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FACTS ABOUT WATER – GLOBAL
February 24, 2004

FACTS ABOUT WATER – GLOBAL

• The world is now using 52% of the available fresh water.

• Water consumption is growing at twice the rate of population.

• About 60% of the human body is made up of water.

• 70% of the human brain is made up of water.

• Over 20% of the world’s population (over 1 billion people) lack access to safe drinking water. – Center for New American Dream, “Enough!”, quarterly report.

• By 2025, nearly 50% of the world's population (at least 3.5 billion people) will face water scarcity. -World Resources Institute

• Agriculture accounts for about 75% of water consumption worldwide, mostly for irrigation. Industry accounts for about 20%; domestic the remaining 5%.

• Annually, Americans consume more water per capita (1677 cubic meters), than any other country in the world, including India and China combined. – The Center for Economic and Social Rights, Right to Water Fact Sheet #1.

• 90% of wastewater in developing countries is discharged into rivers and streams without any treatment. – The Center for Economic and Social Rights, Right to Water Fact Sheet #1.

• 80% of all sickness and disease worldwide is attributed to unsafe drinking water. – The Center for Economic and Social Rights, Right to Water Fact Sheet #1.

• Over 300 million people in Africa lack reasonable access to safe water and adequate sanitation. 'In 25 Years, Half the World Will Be Short of Water', Baba Galleh Jallow All Africa.com, 21 Mar 01

• Water-borne diseases - such as the cholera and dysentery currently rampant in southern Africa - kill an estimated 3 million people every year. - United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)

• Half the world's rivers and lakes are seriously polluted. - In a message to mark World Water Day, Khalid Mohtadullah, Executive Secretary of the Global Water Partnership.

• 90% of large fish in the oceans are gone, due to commercial fishing.

• “At least 20% of the Earth’s 10,000 fresh water fish species are now endangered, threatened with extinction or already extinct.” – “Hydro Dynamics” by Sandra Postel, Natural History, May 2003.

• The world has 76,000 dams, diverting over 250,000 rivers for irrigation and drinking water.

• On average, people have built four dams a day, for the past half century.

• Water draws for agriculture are turning the Aral Sea into a dust bowl.

• Israel controls the lion’s share of the water in the Jordan basin, and Israeli settlers consume about five times more water per capita than do the Palestinians. – “Hydro Dynamics” by Sandra Postel, Natural History, May 2003.

• In 2002, the United Nations resolved that sufficient and safe drinking water is a basic human right.

• The United Nations has passed a recommendation to proclaim the decade 2005-2015 the International Decade for Action 'Water for Life'. The decade would start on World Water Day (March 22) 2005. - www.unesco.org/water


Water: The Impact of Privatization

• Oceans, unlike land, cannot be placed in a private trust for conservation. The oceans are a public trust.

• Texas is the only state in the U.S. that has a “right to capture law”.

• Texas law allows landowners to capture and sell any and all water found directly under their properties, even if that water comes from a shared resources and even if doing so poses a threat to the share supply.

• As an example: Noted takeover businessman T. Boone Pickens reportedly plans to sell 200,000 acre-feet of groundwater from under his Texas ranch, which sits on the Ogallala Aquifer, to the cities of El Paso and Dallas. - “High Noon at the Ogallala Aquifer,” by Jacques Leslie, Salon.com, 1 Feb 2001

• 80% of the privatized water supply is controlled by a handful of multinational corporations.


Water: A Spiritual and Religious Element

• In many cultures and religions, water represents, birth, renewal, cleansing and purifying.

• In the funeral rites of the Hindu, their earthly remains are cremated and returned to the holy River Ganges.

• Since the time Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, Christians have acknowledged their faith with water baptism.

• In Islam, water is important for cleansing and purifying. Muslims must be ritually pure before approaching God in prayer.

• A mikveh is a Jewish ritual bath used for cleansing after contact with a dead body or after menstruation. In Ancient times, people had to be purified with a mikveh before they could enter the Temple area.

• The sanctity of water is very important to Zoroastrians. People must not urinate, spit or wash one's hands in a river, or allow anyone else to.

• Cultures all over the world have their own version of the Great Flood.


Water: A Precious Commodity

• Water has become more precious than oil, taking on the term, “Blue Gold”.

• Unlike oil, water is necessary for life.

• A gallon of bottled water costs more than a gallon of oil.

• Water and oil are non-renewable resources. But oil can be replaced with other forms of energy. Water is finite, and is an irreplaceable resource

• The world bottled water market represents an annual volume of 89 billion litres, and is estimated to be worth US$ 22 billion.

• So valuable is water in arid areas of the world, that Heads of State use it to leverage political power. “In response to Syria’s 1992 requests for more Euphrates River water, Suleyman Demirel, then Turkey’s prime minister, reportedly remarked, ‘We don’t say we share their oil resources. They can’t say they share our water resources.’” - “Hydro Dynamics” by Sandra Postel, Natural History, May 2003.


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