In developed economies we directly consume – in our drinking, our cooking, washing and sanitation – around 160 litres of water a day per head. This is a lot. However, it is only a small percentage of our overall consumption. Indirectly, through our food, the goods and services we consume, and the infrastructure we use, water consumption per head is nearer 4,200 litres a day.
The Risk Talk on water - slipping through our fingers provoked thought and debate about conserving fresh water. The two litres or so of water we need to drink every day is just a very small visible percentage of the water we actually consume.
It is difficult to quantify how much fresh water there is in the world. However, with an increasing global population, greater urbanisation and increasing consumption, together with the effects of climate change, there is pressure on water supplies in many parts of the world. There are some ways of increasing supply, for example through desalination plants, but only to a relatively small degree.