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How Much of the Earth’s Water Is Drinkable?



It is interesting and quite shocking to note that less than 1% of the water on earth is drinkable.


This may come as a surprise for many because water makes up seventy-percent of the Earth’s surface. However, despite the fact that three-fourths of the Earth is made up of water, only 2.5% of this is freshwater, while the rest is in the form of sea water, and is therefore not suitable for drinking.

Furthermore, of the 2.5% freshwater supply we have, the majority or 66.67% of this is in the form of ice caps or glaciers, which means that most of this is not available for human consumption.

Water Available for Drinking: If 66.67% of the freshwater supply is not available for human consumption, this means that only 33.33% is.  33.33% of 2.5%= 0.0083325 , which equates to >1%.

The Earth’s freshwater supply is in the form of groundwater, which is essentially water found below the ground that flows to the surface supplying water to streams and other water bodies.

Drinking Water and Sanitation

Out of the 0.83% of water that is drinkable, most developing countries do not have the money and resources to provide drinkable water that is safe and clean to its people.

According to the UNICEF and the World Health Organization’s 2008 Report on the Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation, there are 884 million people who do not have access to safe water supplies. This translates to about 1/8th of the world’s total population.

A Cause for Concern

The low rate of drinking water on Earth is a major issue that is recognized by organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Water is a basic and essential need for the survival of all forms of life on our planet. According to, a non-profit organization based in the United States which promotes aims to provide potable water to developing countries, 3.575 million people die every year from diseases resulting from unsafe drinking water.

Expert Opinion

Quote:  “Drinkable water is a precious commodity. Most of Earth’s water is seawater. About 2.5 percent is freshwater-and two-thirds of that is frozen in ice caps and glaciers.”

SourceSafe Drinking Water Is Essential
National Academy of Sciences



BBC – Climate Change – Bloom Home.” BBC – Homepage. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2010.

“Safe Drinking Water is Essential – Sources.” Safe Drinking Water Is Essential-National Academy of Sciences. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2010.

“Water is Life – Global Water Cycle.” Academic Program Pages at Evergreen. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2010.

“Drinking Water.” US Environmental Protection Agency. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2012.

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