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Fresh Water – How Much Do We Have?

How much fresh water is actually available?

Water is part of our daily lives. You drink it, use it to wash yourself and your clothes, and flush the toilet with it. You probably don’t even give it a second thought. If you have ever seen a map or a picture of earth from space, it’s easy to see that our planet has more water than land so how could water ever become an issue. The U.S. Geological Survey reckon that of all the water on the planet only 3% of it is actually fresh water. With the rest being salt water, which is great news if you’re a diver or looking to become one. This 3% is vital for life on earth. The planet however is huge, so that still must be a big chunk of water, but when roughly 68% of it is not actually accessible (as it is found in glaciers and the ice caps), it doesn’t actually leave us much to play with.


Of the 3% of freshwater around 30% of it is found as ground water, leaving only 1% that is found at the surface, such as lakes,swamps and rivers.  So out of all the water on our planet less than 1% of it is actually available for human consumption and other animal life. This is a rather surprising fact that one of the earth’s most valued resources, needed for life, is so limited. With population increasing and our demand for water rising we all need to do something to help utilise this resource responsibly.


For a place like Koh Tao this is extremely important. Did you know that Koh Tao has to have its fresh water imported from the mainland? During the dry and the high tourist seasons this can cause problems. As the demand for water just cannot be kept up with. Other factors which influence water shortage is if the island doesn’t receive any rain for months on end or less than usual. The island not only becomes very dry and arid but it actually runs out of water!

So what can we do to help?

Well first thing first is to actually educate ourselves, others and future generations, to make sure that water isn’t just taken for granted and used wastefully. Current studies say the average person at home uses nearly 150 litres a day which could easily be reduced by at least a third with just a few simple changes:

  • Turn the tap off when brushing your teeth; you don’t need it on the whole time! A standard tap wastes around 6 litres a minute.
  • Have showers rather than baths and reduce your showering time or turn off the shower when you are lathering up!
  • When washing dishes by hand don’t leave the tap running unnecessarily
  • If it’s raining, why not harvest the rain water? It’s simple, easy and FREE. It can then be used to flush the toilet, wash your hands, wash your clothes, the possibilities are endless, all you need is a bucket! A standard toilet uses around 8 litres every time you flush. Here at Master Divers we use rainwater in all of our bathrooms, and when this runs out we use sea water.
  • When using the fresh water on our dive boats for rinsing yourself off, please use sparingly
  • Be aware of how much water your using whilst on the island

These simple but helpful tips will ensure you can still stay squeaky clean whilst on your trip or at home but you are also able to do your bit for conserving water here on the island and the environment as a whole!

If you would like to know more about our environment, general conservation and things you can do to help, just ask one of our staff or join us at one of our conservation evenings to learn more. We also offer a ‘Green Package’ as an option for open water courses, so you can start learning about marine conservation from the off!

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