Water & Wastewater

Just like fresh air, potable water is an essential natural resource. 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 resources. Climate change, water pollution, rising populations and urbanization are expected to put further strain on clean water supplies in the coming decades.

These factors have increased the importance of the water and wastewater sector, which is responsible for providing safe drinking water and wastewater services such as sewage treatment. Investment and advances in technologies are needed across the global water infrastructure. In emerging countries, the bulk of water infrastructure spending goes to filtration and desalination projects, while developed countries are anxious to invest in their water supply networks as these continue to age.

Projected water withdrawals worldwide in 2040
4.35tn m3
Annual wastewater generation in Asia
160bn m3
Share of Western Europe population with wastewater collection systems

Market size

Water withdrawals have increased significantly
Total water withdrawals worldwide for agriculture, industry, and domestic uses in selected years from 1900 to 2014 (in trillion cubic meters)
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One contributing factor to water scarcity is the dramatic rise in global water consumption over the past century. In 1901, global water demand was less than one trillion cubic meters, but water demand began to surge during the 1950s. Since then, growing populations and economic growth has seen water demand surpass four trillion cubic meters. India, China, and the United States have the highest water withdrawal rates worldwide.

Water accessibility worldwide
Global water withdrawals by select country 2017
Global water withdrawal per capita by select country 2018

Market segments

Which sector uses the most water
Projected water consumption from 2014 to 2040, by sector (in billion cubic meters)
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The energy, power, industry, and domestic sectors all use vast quantities of water each year. However, the biggest consumer of water is the agriculture sector, with water consumption in this sector projected to reach more than 1.4 trillion cubic meters in 2050. Huge volumes of water withdrawals are used annually for irrigation, livestock, and aquaculture. Agricultural water consumption is typically highest in lower income regions, whilst consumption for industry is more in high income regions.

Global market share of water subsectors 2019
Water-intensive industrial sectors in the United States 2020
China's water use 2009-2019

Industry trends

Water infrastructure repair market is set to grow
Global water infrastructure repair market value from 2020 to 2026 (in billion U.S. dollars)
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The global water infrastructure repair market was valued at almost 100 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 and is projected to increase considerably in the coming decades. Many countries around the world have aging and deteriorating water and wastewater networks that are nearing the end of their useful life. There is a constant need for repairs and maintenance to deal with the growing number of leaks, as well as contaminations. Thus, billions in investments are needed worldwide.

Global satisfaction with water and sewerage infrastructure by country 2019
Lifespan of water infrastructure components in the U.S. 2020
Global views on priority infrastructure investments by type 2019

Industry leaders

Leading water companies worldwide
World's largest diversified utilities as of April 2020, based on market value (in billion U.S. dollars)
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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 20 billion U.S. dollars in 2020. Other leading companies in the global water sector include Veolia Environnement in France, and United Utilities in the UK.

American Water
Veolia Environnement S.A
Leading water utilities companies worldwide based on market cap 2020

Industry Definition

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.


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