Effects of Wastage of Water


Our earth is made up of nearly 70% water. The human body is made up of 60% water. It is one of the six vital nutrients that are necessary for our survival. Other than that, we need a constant water supply for our day-to-day activities like bathing, cleaning, watering plants, etc. Additionally, industrial operations require a large amount of water for heating and cleaning purposes. Water also acts as a solvent for many chemical and biological processes. However, the rapidly increasing population and industrialization have led to immense pressure on water resources. Many parts of the world are already water scarce and living a hard life. It is important to reduce the wastage of water to ensure its availability to all.

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Scarcity of freshwater

Due to the abundance of seawater, we believe that we will have enough water for our survival always. However, it is a myth. Seawater is unsuitable for our daily needs like drinking, bathing, irrigating, etc. due to the presence of salt in it. Freshwater, which is considered suitable for human consumption, is scarce. Only 3% of the total water available on earth is considered freshwater, two-thirds of which are unreachable in the form of glaciers.

According to UNICEF, nearly two-thirds of the world’s population is forced to experience freshwater scarcity. The situation is expected to degrade rapidly by 2025 with half of the world’s population living under freshwater scarcity. This will lead to the displacement of approximately 700 million people in search of viable water resources.

It is postulated that women and children are most affected by water stress. According to a study conducted by UNICEF, roughly 25% of the global children's population will be forced to grow up in areas of delirious water scarcity by the year 2040.

Scarcity of water

The world is facing two kinds of water scarcity. First is the physical water scarcity which refers to the incapability of the natural resources to meet the demand of particular demography. The second one is the economic water scarcity resulting due to improper water management strategies which affects low-income countries greatly. The major causes of water scarcity are −

  • Thoughtless overuse of water − Most of us consider water to be abundant and therefore overuse it carelessly.

  • Water pollution − Manmade activities like domestic, industrial, transportation, and agricultural result in the release of harmful pollutants in the freshwater sources. This renders water unfit for human consumption thus decreasing its availability. WHO guidelines mandates the treatment of wastewater from all sources before its discharge. However, prevailing malpractices and the high cost of wastewater treatment techniques compel many to leave wastewater untreated.

  • Political conflict − Some political boundaries fight over the demographic rights of natural water. They sometimes approach illegal practices of polluting the concerned water as malice, thus rendering the water unfit for consumption.

  • Distance − Many countries, cities, districts, and villages are less fortunate in terms of the location of nearby water sources. They might have to travel miles to get access to water. This adds up to water scarcity and overload. Population residing in desert areas falls under this category.

  • Global warming − Increase in ambient temperature due to excessive release of greenhouse gases lead to rapid evaporation of open water resources like rivers and lakes. This results in the drying up of water bodies and water scarcity.

Effects on the human body

Water plays many roles in the human body. It transports the nutrients through the body, maintains the body temperature, aids in digestion, and flushes out the toxins. It is also called the ‘elixir of life for the same reason. Without access to clean drinking water, our bodies will succumb to many diseases like diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid, Hepatitis A, etc. Children are most affected by consuming contaminated water. The number of people dying from diarrheal diseases crosses two million, mostly children.

Hunger and malnutrition

The availability of potable water is mandatory to produce agricultural products and convert them to food. Agriculture is the major consumer of water with a 70% proportion being used for crop production and irrigation. Therefore, scarcity of drinking water is directly proportional to hunger, malnutrition, and even death. According to a study. Nearly 820 million people starve due to hunger. Although this figure is not entirely due to water shortage but is indirectly related to the socio-economic aspect of water stress.

In order to sustain human lives, it is necessary to ensure an uninterrupted supply of clean water since food production is the major consumer of clean water. This could be achieved by proper waste management, rain-water harvesting, and intelligent use of available water resources.


Due to the rapidly increasing demand for freshwater, the balance of the water cycle in our ecosystem has been disturbed. Lakes, rivers, wells, aquifers, and wetlands are drying at a fast pace. Else, they are getting contaminated due to increasing industrialization and have been rendered unfit for human consumption.

Agriculture is another major consumer of freshwater. Although, humans are the ultimate beneficiary of agricultural produce. It is particularly troublesome for economies that are primarily dependent upon agriculture like India. Additionally, we waste as much water as used due to inefficient processes.

Further, industrial pollution has resulted in major climate change. This has led to unpredictable patterns of rains resulting in floods in some demographics while droughts in others. All these factors in combination lead to the situation of drought which further aggravates the scarcity of freshwater.


Potable water scarcity is a real problem and is deteriorating the quality of human lives. People who are exposed to contaminated water fall sick often thus leading a restricted life. It is essential to pay attention to our water usage patterns and take every possible step to avoid wastage of water. Water is essential and irreplaceable. Every care should be taken to preserve it to ensure the survival of our future generations.


Q1. How do freshwater resources get contaminated?

Ans. The major contributors to the contamination of freshwater resources are municipal, agricultural, and industrial wastewater. Nutrient run-off, volcanic eruptions, certain micro-organisms, and acid rain also contribute to water contamination and scarcity.

Q2. How do you measure the contamination of freshwater sources?

Ans. Contamination of freshwater sources is measured in terms of the following parameters −

  • Conductivity
  • Total Dissolved Solids
  • pH
  • Temperature
  • Turbidity
  • Acidity and Alkalinity
  • Dissolved Oxygen
  • Biological Oxygen Demand
  • Chemical Oxygen Demand

Q3. What do you understand by potable water?

Ans. Potable water refers to the water that has been classified as fit for drinking purposes. It is either free from any biological or chemical contaminant or contains them at levels below the prescribed limit.

Updated on: 07-Dec-2022

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