It isnt agriculture
Increasing water use is a fact of life in many countries and an inevitability for others. The worlds six billion inhabitants are already appropriating 54 per cent of all accessible freshwater reserves. It is predicted that by 2025 humankinds share will be 70 per cent. This estimate reflects only the impact of population growth. A worse scenario looms large as the scramble for water intensifies.
Who consumes water most? Households? According to UNDPs World Water Development Report, 2003 (WWDR, 2003), they account for only eight per cent of global water consumption. The agricultural sector? It is the largest user of water globally and accounts for about 70 per cent of the total freshwater abstraction. However, it is predicted that both these users will be outdone by industry: Water consumption by industries is increasing. In fact, in high income countries, industrial water use already accounts for as much as 59 per cent of the total fresh water consumption; almost twice the amount used in agriculture. (See graph: Water use worldwide). It is likely, then, that this will become a global trend even as more and more nations begin to choose industry over agriculture, as a key to economic growth.
Growing need, growing concern
And where is this most likely to happen? Most of this increase in industrial water use in likely to happen in fast growing developing countries like India. There has been a significant migration of manufacturing industries from developed countries to developing ones and this trend is likely to continue. This will contribute to the increasing use of water by industries in developing countries.
Industrial use of water has a direct bearing on the countrys economy. This means that as India increase its GDP, there will be a corresponding increase in water use by Indian industries.
Industries not only consume water but also pollute it. According to the WWDR 2003, in developing countries, 70 per cent of industrial wastes are dumped without treatment, thereby polluting the usable water supply. Therefore, the issue of industrial water use revolves around two crucial interlinked issues water use and water pollution.
As it is, waters scarce
As it is, everyone
How much water does Indian industry consume?
According to MoWR, industrial water use in India stands at about 40 billion cubic meters or nearly 6 per cent of total freshwater abstraction.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), in 2000, Indias annual fresh water withdrawals were about 500 billion cubic meter and the Indian industry consumed about 10 billion cubic meter of water as process water and 30 billion cubic meter as cooling water. Therefore, according to CPCB data, the water consumption in Indian industry accounts for about 8 per cent of the total fresh water use in the country.
According to the World Bank, the water demand for industrial uses and energy production will grow at a rate of 4.2 per cent per year, rising from 67 billion cubic meter in 1999 to 228 billion cubic meter by 2025. Therefore, according to the World Bank the current industrial water use in India is about 13 per cent of the total fresh water withdrawal in the country.
Despite differences, the estimates on industrial water use by the three agencies have a point in common. All the three agencies concur that industrial water use is growing at the fastest pace in the country.