Collecting rainwater can be a fun DIY project, a technique for a greener garden, or something that you’re doing to be a good global citizen (there are plenty of reasons this is true). Still, the link between harvesting rainwater and the pending global water crisis are undeniable and it’s in our best interest collectively to understand the scope of water scarcity and its impacts as well as the role that collecting rainwater can play in addressing these challenges.
Here, I’ve collected 14 facts about rain, water consumption, and water conservation. Some are fun, some are shocking, but all of them are interesting.
Rain and Rainwater Harvesting Facts
- 39 inches of rain falls on average every year worldwide. This depends on where you live, of course.
- Arica, Chile is the driest city on the planet with an average of 0.03 inches of rain a year (excluding the dry valleys in Antarctica that haven’t seen water in 2 million years)
- Mawsynram, India is the wettest place on earth with 467 inches of rainfall on average every year
- With only a 1,000 square foot roof, you can collect over 600 gallons of water for every inch of rain.
- Over 40% of Thailand’s rural population gets their drinking water from rainwater harvesting. This is up more than 10% since Thailand introduced its jar program in 1985 where the government delivered 5.9 million 2000 liter jars to rural homes.
- The United States gets enough rain every year to cover the country in 30 inches of water
- Sometimes, it can begin raining and the rain never reaches the ground. This is called Virga and the precipitation evaporates before it ever completes its journey.
- Rainwater harvesting can be traced as far back as 5,500 years ago in the Neolithic period when lime plaster cisterns were used in the Levant region. It was likely practiced before and has had a long history across many cultures ever since.
Water Consumption Facts
- The average person in the US consumes roughly 82 gallons of water in a single day! The toilet makes up 24% of daily water consumption and the shower makes up 20%.
- The average household leak can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of wasted water in the span of a year. Even worse, roughly 10% of homes have leaks! Fixing leaks is one of the most effective ways to reduce your water footprint.
- 41.4% of all water consumption in the US is used for thermoelectric power. The next highest usage is irrigation at 36.7%. Domestic use accounts for only 1% of all water consumption in the US.
- The US is getting better at water conservation. Water usage in the US has declined by 20.5% since 2000 while the number of people with no access to safe drinking water has improved by 33.4%.
Water Conservation Facts
- Over 4 billion people (2/3rd of the world’s population) experience water scarcity for at least one month during the year. 1.8 billion to 2.9 billion experience water scarcity for at least 4-6 months of the year!
- Contaminated drinking water carrying diseases caused an estimated 485,000 deaths a year! In fact, it’s estimated that dirty water causes a death every 10 seconds.
- For every $1 invested in safe water and sanitation, a yield of $5 to $28 USD is returned in increased economic activity and reduced health care costs. Access to safe water stimulates the economy for the long-term.
- Global water demand is expected to increase 50% by 2050, largely driven by manufacturing demands, not domestic use.