Facts About Threats to Water
Freshwater is essential for human survival, for agriculture and for the survival of our planet’s plants and animals. But pollution, climate change, water-related disease, and the destruction of our natural world all threaten the purity and availability of our most precious resource. Despite the pressing nature of these threats, water institutions and policymakers have, so far, been largely unable to develop the tools and approaches needed to address these problems.
Facts on the World’s Water
The Earth has 1,386,000,000 km3 of water total but only 2.5 percent of that is fresh water (35,029,000 km3 or 9,254,661,800 billion gallons of fresh water).
- Less than 1 percent of the world’s fresh water (or 0.01 percent of all water) is usable in a renewable fashion.
- The average person needs a minimum of 1.3 gallons (5 liters) of water per day to survive in a moderate climate at an average activity level. The minimum amount of water needed for drinking, cooking, bathing, and sanitation is 13 gallons (50 liters).
- The average person in the United States uses between 65 to 78 gallons of water (250 to 300 liters) per day for drinking, cooking, bathing, and watering their yard. The average person in the Netherlands uses only 27 gallons (104 liters) per day for the same tasks.
- An estimated 1.2 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water. Lack of clean drinking water leads to nearly 250 million cases of water-related disease each year and between 5 and 10 million deaths.
- Global warming will likely have major impacts on the world’s freshwater resources. Some areas will suffer more frequent and severe droughts; other places will face more frequent and severe floods.
- More water is drawn each day in the United States to cool power plants than for any other purpose.
Facts about emerging threats to the world’s water:
- Water pollution is a very serious threat to the world’s water and gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing is a major contributor to water pollution and contamination.
- Gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing requires 3-9 million gallons of water for each well.
- 40,000 lbs. of toxic chemicals are added to every 1 million gallons of water used to create fracking fluid translating to 120,000 – 360,000 lbs. of toxic chemicals per well.
- 60-80% of the toxic fluids injected underground, remain underground where they can contaminate the aquifers that provide us with safe drinking water.
- 20-40% of fluid that is recovered from the ground, not only contains the toxic chemicals drilling companies added, but also can contain levels of radiation over 1,000 times the EPA’s standard for drinking water.
- Recovered fluids that are stored in above or underground tanks are at risk of leeching into the environment.
- Recovered fracking fluids are sent to sewage treatment plants that are not designed to process their chemical and radioactive load. This fluid is then discharged into local waterways and drinking supplies.
- Highly salted water, known as “production brine,” seeps to the surface from gas wells and is 5x saltier than seawater. Solutions with salt concentrations this high damage water treatment facilities and can completely destroy freshwater ecosystems.
Based on extensive study and scientific evidence, Catskill Mountainkeeper has called for a ban on fracking. We are also working within the existing regulatory process in New York to raise critical issues, widen the discussion of the impacts of drilling, and expand the options available to protect the public.