How much water
do we use every day?

We use a lot of water at home on a daily basis. Some of this domestic consumption is obvious, like when we use water for cooking or drinking. It’s easy to see how much water we used to boil pasta, for example. Yet, other domestic water consumption habits may be less obvious.
“No matter how you twist and turn it, water costs money.”
Source: Orbital System’s survey

In fact, on average 50% of our daily water consumption is by taking showers and flushing the toilet, while over 20% goes toward household chores like washing the dishes or doing laundry. The remainder of daily water usage consists of various tasks, like brushing our teeth, shaving, watering plants, washing cars, or simply running the tap.

Understanding where our water comes from

As the world’s population grows and urbanization increases, it’s important to note that the world’s water supply stays constant. Although 71% of the Earth’s surface is water, very little of it is actually usable for our needs.

More than 97% of Earth’s water supply is salt water from seas and oceans, which must undergo an expensive and energy intensive treatment called water desalination in order to be usable. Another 2% of Earth’s water is frozen in polar ice caps. In reality, less than 1% of the world’s water supply is freshwater suitable for our needs.
“30% of the global water disappears due to leakage.”
Source: Global Water Crisis - The Facts. UN University,
Institute for Water, Environment and Health
While the total water supply remains constant through the water cycle, it doesn’t always return to the ground in the same place, same quantity, or, even, same quality. The consequence is that the failure to conserve current available supplies may lead to supply shortages in adequate, healthy water in the future.
“The failure to conserve current available supplies may lead to supply shortages in adequate, healthy water in the future.”
Source: Svenskt vatten - Vattenfakta

The risks and challenges ahead

In addition to challenges sourcing water, climate change and ageing infrastructure also present issues for our freshwater supply. Droughts, rising sea levels, wildfires, and severe flooding caused by climate change have all contributed to a global water shortage.
Meanwhile, infrastructural issues like leaky pipes and inadequately treated wastewater further reduce the world’s dwindling water supply.

Factors like available supply, climate change, and inadequate infrastructure present challenges that have rapid and tangible effects for both our global and local communities such as health hazards, reduced food supplies, rising costs, and political conflict.

How we can make a global difference, locally

In addition to challenges sourcing water, climate change and ageing infrastructure also present issues for our freshwater supply. Droughts, rising sea levels, wildfires, and severe flooding caused by climate change have all contributed to a global water shortage.

Source: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Water: A Critical Resource
“We have plenty of water in Sweden today – but we must be careful if we also want to have water tomorrow.”
Source: WSP, Sweden and the 21st century water challenges

Water consumption in Sweden

Although Scandinavians may not use as much water as other parts of the world, their 140 daily litres per person is still more than the 50-100 daily litres per person recommended by WHO (World Health Organization). It’s easy to believe that the situation is not urgent or critical in a place like Sweden because water shortage is not evenly distributed across the globe.

While most Swedes might not yet feel the effects of water shortage, two out of five citizens reported being affected by supply shortages within recent years according to a survey conducted by WSP. This shortage was likely caused by the fact that the drinking water produced by municipal waterworks is not distributed evenly.

“The growing environmental and economic strain to maintain our current water consumption levels makes it clear that we have to change our relationship with water now.”
Source: WSP, Sweden and the 21st century water challenges

Water supply challenges in Sweden

Swedish municipalities are facing two types of challenges regarding water supply: environmental and economic. We’ve already started to see the environmental factors brought on by climate change play out. Sea levels in Southern Sweden are rising and warm summers coupled with dry winters in recent years have caused unusually low groundwater levels in many parts of the country. 

On the other hand, economic issues brought on by water supply shortages have not yet noticeably affected the Swedish population. Despite 60 billion SEK of reinvestments in the Swedish water and wastewater system between 2002 and 2017, it was estimated that another 15-30 billion SEK was required for maintenance and improvement during this period. 

As a consequence, we have passed the responsibility to pay this additional 15-30 billion SEK infrastructure debt to future generations. A staggering 72% of municipalities plan to tackle these expenses by raising local water tax within the 5 years. 

Rather than passing on the burden to future generations, we need to safeguard the resources we have currently and reduce the cost of future investments. Achieving this means finding smarter, more efficient ways to consume water.

Making an impact through how we shower

We won’t solve the world’s water problem in three years or, even, ten years. We can, however, start considering alternative ways to reduce our domestic water consumption now. Every effort, either through a single person or entire community, makes an impact. Many of us have already started working toward that change. Over the last five years 60% of citizens have changed their behavior to save water.

This is the hope that fuels our goals at Orbital Systems. We want to encourage solutions that enable us to make smart choices about how we use domestic water. That’s why we’re designing application solutions that change how we use water. 

The first step on that journey is our Orbital Shower, the world’s first recirculating shower system designed to reduce both domestic water and energy use. It reduces the amount of water used in a shower by cleaning, purifying, and reusing what flows from the shower head, reducing cost over time. 

Our long-term goal is to extend this technology into other areas of domestic water usage to change how we use water now and in the future.