1 US Gallon of Water Is All a Person Needs to Survive

for one day in an emergency.

Karen Madej
4 min readMar 15, 2022


Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

You’ll be surprised how much we use on an ordinary day. How much water, on average, do you think we use globally?

Africans can and do survive on 5.28 gallons of water per day. A typical Brit will use about 41 gallons per day, whereas an average American uses between 100 to 175 gallons of water per day.

The CDC recommends one gallon of water per day in emergencies for drinking and sanitation. Let’s explore where much of our freshwater goes down the drain.

The World Counts keeps track of how many tons of freshwater the world uses per day, week, month, and year. Earth may be known as the blue planet for its 75% water coverage. However, only 2.5% of our planet’s water is safe to drink.

Many of us lose sight of how much water goes into producing the food and drink products we consume.

Can you guess how many billion tons of freshwater are consumed every day worldwide?

10 billion tons worldwide. This figure doesn’t only include what we drink or use to wash ourselves and our clothes. Our clothes, paper, and cotton production use 167 liters, and food accounts for 3,496 liters a day per person.

Virtual water is the invisible water used out of sight to make what we buy and eat. Prof. Tony Allan conceived the idea of virtual water to help us understand how much freshwater we use behind the scenes.

An example of virtual water is how much water is used to produce a 2.2-pound steak.

Let’s look at all the stages of beef production. The cow needs to eat grain. The grain and the cow need water to grow and stay alive. After three years, the cow is slaughtered, and the slaughterhouse needs to be cleaned.

One mouthwatering juicy steak = 3,091,000 liters of water!