When water scarcity becomes a reality

Worldwide, cities are rapidly expanding — by 2050 2.5 billion more people are expected to live in cities — and the demand for safe and clean water is only growing. 

And despite the fact that demands are rising, we’re continuing to contaminate or waste our available resources. A total of 80% of all wastewater returns to nature without being properly treated. At the same time, globally, we are losing an average of 30% of all pumped fresh water — and cities are losing up to 60% of all pumped water due to poor water networks. 

The concept of water scarcity is nothing new to Mexico City. The city seems to be quite accustomed to shortages, importing 40% of its water from distant sources. At the same time, due to pipe network issues, the city loses 40% of its pumped water — and on top of that, there is no large-scale operation for recycling wastewater. Intelligent water solutions can reduce losses like this dramatically.  

The water infrastructure of many cities is old and deteriorating and simply not equipped to deal with this rate of rapid growth. Business-as-usual will lead to a 40% gap between fresh water supply and demand by 2030. 

We can already see many large cities around the world approaching Day Zero, meaning these cities – London, Miami, Beijing, Mexico City, Cape Town to name a few – are at risk of running out of drinking water. To overcome these global water challenges, the right water management solutions for water use and reuse are critical. And the right mindset is integral for us to make any lasting changes. 


Water loss

Globally an average of 30% of all pumped water never reaches the tap. In cities the average is even higher and can reach 60%. This water is lost due to both leakages and theft. A few examples of non-revenue water (NRW) per country are: United Kingdom 21%, Mexico 40%, United States 20%, Sweden 40%, Liberia 49%, Armenia 83%, China 21% and Venezuela 62%.

Source: Quantifying the global non-revenue water problem, R. Liemberger and A. Wyatt

Water demand

Today, more than 2 billion people are living with the risk of reduced access to freshwater sources. By 2050, 40% of the world’s population is projected to live under severe water stress.

Sources: United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6, UNWD Report 2018 + 2020


By 2050, an additional 2.5 billion people are expected to live in cities, which accounts for 68% of the population. Nearly 90% of this increase is expected to take place in Africa and Asia.

Source: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Solutions in action

Although cities around the world are under a lot of pressure, there are intelligent solutions available for better, more efficient, more sustainable water management. Some of these solutions are already in action, like water treatment, water reuse and demand-driven distribution which is ensuring optimal water pressure and flow and minimising pipe bursts for towns and cities all over the globe.

Ningbo doses safely and accurately for 1.5 million citizens

10 years ago, a lake water plant in the Chinese city of Ningbo needed help pumping the dangerous compound sodium hypochlorite. Today, the Grundfos dosing pumps implemented are still going strong and guaranteeing safe water for 1.5 million citizens. 

Water plant enjoys 20% energy + water savings 

In the Cambodian province of Takéo, a water supply company was struggling to supply drinking water to the small city of Doun Kaev and the surrounding 45 villages. After teaming up with Grundfos, an intelligent demand driven water supply solution solved the problem and cut water losses by 13% and pipe bursts by 29% giving villagers reliable water supply 24/7.

Pump gates bring new flow to Fuzhou’s rivers

Fuzhou, a large city in China, has had problems with dirty, odorous water in its rivers and canals for decades. A series of Grundfos pump gates brought flow once again to the water. This solution eradicated the smelly, polluted water, creating a better living environment along the populated riversides.

Want to learn more?

In order to make a positive change, we must act now. Visit the links below for further learning, including exploring current solutions for buildings as well as Grundfos intelligent pump solutions.