Water emergency and conscious consumption: why can we no longer say? As easy as drinking a glass of water?

Water emergency and conscious consumption: why can we no longer say? As easy as drinking a glass of water?

First in Europe, third in the world behind the United Arab Emirates and Mexico: Italians drink an average of 195 liters of mineral water a year. To which is added the water consumed for eating, washing, running factories, in agriculture for a total of 237 liters of water per day (an inhabitant of Madagascar uses only 10 liters per day).

The behaviors of Italian consumers are not always the most aware, both in the use of drinking water – one of the least expensive in Europe, but with considerable waste – as in the prevalent use of bottled water. In our country, 64 billion euros are needed over 30 years to bring aqueducts to 4 per cent of the houses that are still lacking, sewers to 15 per cent of pipes not connected, purification to 30 per cent of unserved drains.

The information campaign of Coop “Acqua di casa mia” to promote a conscious consumption of water, starting from that of the tap, starts from impressive data such as these. Because bottling and road transport of 100 liters of water traveling for 100 km produces emissions of at least 10 kg of CO2. If you choose tap water, about 0.04 kg of CO2 are emitted for every 100 liters.

The theme is of global importance . In 2006 the European Commission carried out an analysis on water scarcity and the risk of drought in Europe, and in 2007 it published a communication proposing urgent policies for the efficient management and reduction of waste.

Access to drinking water is a “human right indispensable for the full enjoyment of the right to life”. Obvious? Yet the United Nations signed it, in a resolution approved by the general assembly, only in July 2010, after more than 15 years of debates.

The same text states that 884 million people do not have access to drinking water and 2.6 billion live in insufficient sanitation conditions . 5 million people die every year from water-related diseases, of which 4,900 children a day (three times more than those born every day in Italy). The numbers are destined to grow: due to the increase in population, pollution, the use of backward technologies, climate change, and waste.

Lots of water, little drinking. 71 percent of the planet is covered by water, but 97.5 percent is salty and it costs too much to make it drinkable on a large scale. 2.5 percent remains: 35 million cubic kilometers, but 68.9 percent englobed in glaciers and perennial snow, 30.8 percent underground and only 0.3 percent is found in lakes and rivers .

The real availability is about 1 per cent of the total fresh water, according to calculations by UNEA (United Nations Environment Program). It would be enough, if the distribution were homogeneous. Instead, 64.4 percent of the world’s water resources are found in 13 countries. Brazil alone owns nearly 15 percent of it. Followed by Russia (8.2 percent), Canada (6 percent), the United States (5.6 percent), Indonesia (5.2 percent) and China (5.1 percent). At the other end of the table, a growing number of countries with per capita availability of less than 1,000 cubic meters per year.


In the future, the situation will get worse. In the twentieth century, water consumption multiplied by nine. Between 1980 and 2004, due to the increase in population, pollution and increasing abstraction, the amount of water available to each human being decreased by 40 percent, and in 2025 the per capita dowry will be less. a third of that of 1950.

The difference in water consumption between an American (425 liters per day) and an African (10) is defined as water footprint, a concept that also includes water used for agricultural and production purposes. The United States has a very high one: 2,480 cubic meters per capita per year.

Italy is also among the countries with the largest water footprint, that is, with a consumption of between 2,100 and 2,500 cubic meters per person per year. Every Italian uses twice as much water as his great-grandfather used at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Globally, about 70 percent of water is used in agriculture, 20 percent for industrial uses, 10 percent ends up in homes and offices. The “water footprint” has a different impact depending on the area in which the water resources are withdrawn: in an area rich in water the impacts are relatively low compared to those obtained from withdrawals carried out in an area with water scarcity. With the accentuation of climate change caused by the consumption of fossil fuels and deforestation, the importance of the water footprint has died out.

Waste is a shared problem: 60% of European cities excessively exploit their water resources; irrigated area in southern Europe has increased by 20 per cent in just over 15 years; 50 percent of the land with aquifers is in a state of emergency due to over-exploitation.

How much water goes into food. Unesco estimates that on average it takes 3,000 liters of water to produce the daily food for one person. To produce a kilo of potatoes it takes 160 liters of water, for a kilo of wheat 1,100 liters, for a kilo of soybean 2,300 liters, for a kilo of rice 2,600, for a kilo of poultry meat 2,800 liters, for a kilo of beef 16,000 liters, 250 liters for a kilo of steel, 100,000 liters for a kilo of aluminum.

Even all our daily domestic activities all have a “water quotation”: for a bathroom you need 150 liters, for a three-minute shower about 50 liters, for drinking and cooking 6 liters per person, for washing dishes by hand 20 liters.

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