Water is an essential natural resource upon which all life on Earth depends. Although about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, less than one percent of the planet’s total water resources can be classified as accessible freshwater for consumption. Water demand continues to rise as populations grow and economies improve, while climate change and water pollution are putting additional strain on water supplies. These factors have increased the importance of the water sector, which is mainly responsible for providing safe drinking water to people.
Another vital service of the water industry is the safe disposal of wastewater through various treatments with diverse levels of complexity. Investment and advances in these technologies are needed in the wastewater branch and across the global water infrastructure to meet growing demands.
The volume of water withdrawn annually worldwide for agriculture, industry, and domestic use has increased over the past century, and as of 2020 stood at approximately four trillion cubic meters. Water use is highest in Asia by far, where roughly 2.6 trillion cubic meters is withdrawn each year.
The water industry is essential for providing clean and safe water to the global population by disinfecting drinking water, treating wastewater, as well as desalinating seawater. The global water and wastewater treatment market size recovered from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to reach 281.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, a trend expected to have continued in 2022. The market will continue to grow over the coming years, nearing 500 billion U.S. dollars by 2029.
With water scarcity hitting the headlines more frequently, trying to find other sources of freshwater has become a main trend in the industry. For instance, the desalinization of seawater for human consumption in countries where water sources are scant has been common practice in recent decades. The region with the highest share of the world’s desalination capacity is the Middle East, at more than 50 percent. North America ranks second with just under 20 percent.
Water companies are responsible for providing the public with safe drinking water and wastewater services, as well as maintaining vast networks of pipes and sewers. The U.S.-based public utility company American Water Works is a leading player in the water sector and had a market value of more than 30 billion U.S. dollars in 2022. Other leading companies in the global water sector include Towngas (Hong Kong & China Gas Co Ltd.) and the French utility Veolia Environment.
The water and waste management category provides statistics and reports on all aspects involved in the global water sector. These include topics such as water demand and consumption, water and wastewater treatment, water scarcity, as well as water prices and water utilities.