Visualizing Water

Presented by Team Planeteers

Thom Gable, Sarthak Ghosh, Fereshteh Shahmiri, Rohit Varkey Thankachan

In our modern way of life, water is something that we take for granted everyday. However...
More than 1.1 billion people still do not have adequate access to safe water and 2.4 billion people are without appropriate sanitation.
So let's take a step back and see how much water we actually have...

Water makes up about 75% of the surface of the earth. However, 97% of the water on earth is salt water and therefore not easily used.

This means only 3% of the total water on earth is in the form of freshwater.

Total Freshwater

Now, let's consider only the total freshwater on earth which is equal to 8.5 quintillion gallons. The scale now changes so that each pixel is equal to 5.1 quadrillion gallons of water.

Usable Freshwater

However, not all the freshwater is usable. 65% of the freshwater on earth is in either glacier or permafrost form.

This leaves us with only 35% of the earth's freshwater available to be used by humans and animals; That is, 1.785 quadrillion gallons of water.

Ideal per Capita Distribution

Ideally, every person in any continent should have access to an equal amount of water. It's an equal world afterall.

Group By

Display Quantity

Reality per Capita Distribution

The reality however, is quite skewed. As can be seen here, the per capita water availability is varied both by continent and by average individual income. The per capita water usage is also skewed across both continents and income.

Group By

Display Quantity

The disparity in water availability and use among people from different regions of the world is striking.

Putting things into perspective

Considering the daily water use in different countries, we can see that 1 person in the USA uses the same amount of water per day as is used by 144 people in the country of Mozambique

When about 18% of countries in the world are suffering from medium to extreme water stress, this level of opulence is just shortsightedness. It falls upon each one of us to make the right choice and start saving water every day, every hour.
We all know that shorter showers, turning off the tap when brushing our teeth, and flushing the toilet less often can help to conserve water. However, one of the biggest ways that we can conserve water is through our diet because 92% of the water that we use each day is from the food that we eat.
Move the sliders on some popular foods to see how much water is required to produce different types of food.
Note: the average male needs between 2,000 and 3,000 calories a day while the average female needs between 1,800 and 2,400 calories daily.




The ability to change your water use is in your hands and should not be taken lightly. The inequality of water distribution around the globe is extreme and can be helped by trying to conserve water in your own life so others may have access to it.

To see a more extensive view of the water distribution and water use across the globe grouped and filtered by different variables scroll down. Explore this visualization to gain a better understanding of our global water and its use.



Water Usage



Water Availability


It is never too late to start. You can have an impact on the world water usage simply by changing small habits. For further details and information, check out the resources below.