Food and agriculture are the largest consumers of water, requiring one hundred times more than we use for personal needs. Up to 70 % of the water we take from rivers and groundwater goes into irrigation, about 10% is used in domestic applications and 20% in industry. Currently, about 3600 km3 of freshwater are withdrawn for human use. Of these, roughly half is really consumed as a result of evaporation, incorporation into crops and transpiration from crops. The other half recharges groundwater or surface flows or is lost in unproductive evaporation. Up to 90% of the water withdrawn for domestic use is returned to rivers and aquifers as wastewater and industries typically consume only about 5% of the water they withdraw. This wastewater from domestic sewage systems and industries should be treated before being dismissed.
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