“After the U.S., the amount of water consumed per country drops significantly,” says Klaus Reichardt, CEO and founder of Waterless Co., makers of no-flush urinals and other restroom products.* 

“For instance, Brazil, which is next on the list, uses less than half of what is consumed in the U.S.” (See sidebar for the complete list)

However, the study shows the amount of water consumed on a per capita (per person) basis can vary significantly.  Even though it is number three on the top ten list, the U.S. has the highest per capita water footprint at 2,842 cubic meters per person.

This amount consumed per person can depend greatly on a country’s eating habits.  For instance, the U.S. is considered to be a big consumer of meat.  And, significant amounts of water are used to raise cattle and process meat.

In contrast, in India few people consume meat. As a result, the country’s per capita consumption of water is less than 1,400 cubic meters per year, essentially half of what is consumed in the U.S.

“Right now, the U.S. is actually a net exporter of water,” says Reichardt.  “We export water in the form of food and products.  However, this may change as we and other countries grapple with water shortages and the rising cost of water.”

Top ten water consuming countries in the world are:

1.    China

2.    India

3.    U.S.

4.    Brazil

5.    Russia

6.    Indonesia

7.    Pakistan

8.    Mexico

9.    Japan

10. Nigeria

* Source: Scientific American, February 2012.