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Water Use

Conserving Water

People need water to live. Not everyone in the world has enough water to meet their needs. People in New Zealand use a lot of water per person per day.

How much water does one person need?

You think you’re pretty solid, but 70 percent of your body weight is water. If you lose one percent of that water, you feel thirsty. Lose 10 percent or more, and you risk death. People can only live three days without water. 

We need to drink two to five litres of water per day to live, depending on the weather and how active we are. But not everyone has the water they need.

50 litres - It takes about 50 litres per day to meet one person’s basic water needs.

95 litres - Half the people in the world use 95 litres per person per day.

More than 200 litres - People in developed countries like New Zealand use more than 200 litres per person per day.

Less than 10 litres - People in countries with not much water use less than 10 litres per person per day.

Basic water needs

In New Zealand, the average person uses 227 litres of water per day:

  • Toilet = 86 litres per day
  • Bathing and hygiene = 68 litres per day
  • Laundry = 36 litres per day
  • Kitchen = 32 litres per day
  • Housekeeping = 5 litres per day

More than 70% of this water is used in the bathroom. More than 20% is used in the kitchen and laundry.

How much water do you think you would need to have stored to survive for three days if there was a disaster such as an earthquake that cut the water supply?

Do New Zealanders use a lot of water? 

Yes, we use a relatively large amount of water when compared to people in most other countries. 

Measuring water use

Every litre of treated tap water uses resources and energy. We all need to try and use less water. It is helpful if we know how much water we use. Water is measured in cubic metres (m³), litres (L), or millilitres (mL). 1000mL equals one litre and 1000L = one cubic metre.

How much water do you think you use each day?

Ready for a quiz?


Audio Māori keywords: 

What do you use the most water for?

We all need water to survive. People need to drink between 2 and 5 litres of water each day. Image: Public Domain.

Resources and energy are needed to treat water to make it safe to drink. How much water do you think you use each day? Image: Public Domain.

Not everyone in the world has access to enough clean water. Image: Jason Eppink.

Typical water use in the home. Image: http://wikinista.wikispaces.com/

Conserving Water