State of the world’s water

This chapter addresses a few preconceived ideas on the availability and use of water worldwide. There is no ‘creation’ of ‘new’ water on the planet. The available volume of water is recycled through a well coordinated system between the earth and the atmosphere, ‘the hydrologic cycle’. This means that despite a rapidly growing population, the volume of available and accessible freshwater is roughly the same. Supplying this growing population therefore depends on the capacity (and the will) to manage the resource differently (i.e. ensuring its quality, quantity and access) so that it can reach more people.

A common perception is that most of the available freshwater resources are visible (on the surfaces of lakes, reservoirs and rivers). However, this visible water represents only a tiny fraction of global freshwater resources, as most of it is stored in aquifers, with the largest stocks stored in solid form in the Antarctic and in Greenland’s ice cap.