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  • James Howey

Think there’s a lot? Think again!

About 70% of Earth is covered in water, but 97.5% of that is salty ocean water and saline lakes/groundwater, hence not suitable for drinking. This leaves only 2.5% as freshwater. A huge portion of this freshwater is locked up in ice, with most of the remaining freshwater found below our feet as groundwater. Surface and other freshwater make up a very small fraction of total freshwater. See the Figure below.

The top 5 countries in terms of annual renewable water resources include Brazil, Russia, Unites States, Canada and China (source). Brazil’s annual renewal water resources is 8,223 km3/year compared to Australia’s 336 km3/year.

One-third of the world's population lives in water-stressed countries. The World Resources Institute's (WRIs) overall water risk ratings for Australia can be seen in the Figure below (aggregated measure).

Being such a large country, the variation in the overall water risk rating is expected. For example, some places in Western Australia have high risk while some places like far north Queensland have low risk. Further information on individual risk categories (e.g. water stress, seasonal variability, water access) can be found here: Aqueduct water risk atlas.

We all need to play our part – Water is Everyone’s Business. Actions like proper water management (e.g. through implementation of a drinking water quality management system / IWRM practices) and water conservation plans can help to secure our water supplies!

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