Loss of water to industrial uses

Other Names:
Competition between industry and agriculture for water

In hot areas where rainfall is low and evaporation rates are high, the water abstracted to satisfy industrial and domestic requirements can only result in a corresponding decrease in agricultural production. When such competition occurs, water tends to go to the highest bidder. It is nonsensical in developing countries where every scrap of food is needed to feed their generally malnourished populations.


To produce one day's food for a meat eater takes 15,000 litres as compared with 1200 litres for a vegetarian. Over 50% of the water used in the USA is to irrigate feed and fodder to livestock.

According to a 1999 report, China was facing the likelihood of severe grain shortages because of water depletion and the shift of limited water resources from agriculture to industry and cities. The resulting demand for grain in China could exceed the world's available exportable supply.

During a drought crisis in northern Mexico in 1995, the government cut water supplies to local farmers while ensuring emergency supplies to the mostly foreign-controlled industries in the region.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST