These statistics are presented here to illustrate the importance of protecting our precious waters.
* The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System has only 10,931 river miles in it -- just over one-quarter of one percent of our rivers are protected through this designation, and this protection is often contended.
* Currently, 600,000 miles of our rivers lie behind an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 dams.
* The United States has 3,500,000 miles of rivers. The 600,000 miles of rivers lying behind dams amounts to fully 17% of our river mileage.
* The Mississippi River is about 2,340 miles long, making it the longest river in North America. The Nile is the longest river in the world at 4,132 miles as it travels northward from its remote headwaters in Burundi to the Mediterranean Sea.
* The 8 longest rivers in the U.S. are (in descending order) Mississippi, Missouri, Yukon, St. Lawrence (if you count the Great Lakes and its headwaters as one system), Rio Grande, Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio.
* The 8 largest rivers in the U.S., based on volume, are (in descending order) Mississippi, St. Lawrence, Ohio, Columbia, Yukon, Missouri, Tennessee, Mobile.
* Water covers nearly three-fourths of the earth^s surface.
* Most of the earth^s surface water is permanently frozen or salty.
* Over 90% of the world^s supply of fresh water is located in Antarctica.
* The earth^s total allotment of water has a volume of about 344 million cubic miles. Of this: * 315 million cubic miles (93%) is sea water! * 9 million cubic miles (2.5%) is in aquifers deep below the earth^s surface. * 7 million cubic miles (2%) is frozen in polar ice caps. * 53,000 cubic miles of water pass through the planet^s lakes and streams. * 4,000 cubic miles of water is atmospheric moisture. * 3,400 cubic miles of water are locked within the bodies of living things.
* If all the world^s water were fit into a gallon jug, the fresh water available for us to use would equal only about one tablespoon.
* The overall amount of water on our planet has remained the same for two billion years.
* 1.2 Billion -- Number of people worldwide who do not have access to clean water.
* 6.8 Billion -- Gallons of water Americans flush down their toilets every day.
* Each day almost 10,000 children under the age of 5 in Third World countries die as a result of illnesses contracted by use of impure water.
* Most of the world^s people must walk at least 3 hours to fetch water.
* It doesn^t take much salt to make water "salty." If one-thousandth (or more) of the weight of water is from salt, then the water is "saline."
* Saline water can be desalinated for use as drinking water by going through a process to remove the salt from the water. The process costs so much that it isn^t done on a very large scale. The cost of desalting sea water in the U.S. ranges from $1 to $16 per 1000 gallons.
* Only 7% of the country^s landscape is in a riparian zone -- only 2% of which still supports riparian vegetation.
* The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimate that 70% of the riparian habitat nationwide has been lost or altered.
* Over 90% of the nearly 900,000 acres of riparian areas on Bureau of Land Management land are in degraded condition due to livestock grazing.
* Riparian areas in the West provide habitat for more species of birds than all other western vegetation combined -- 80% of neotropical migrant species (mostly songbirds) depend on riparian areas for nesting or migration.
* Fully 80% of all vertebrate wildlife in the Southwest depend on riparian areas for at least half of their life.
* A 1982 study showed that areas cleared of riparian vegetation in the Midwest had erosion rates of 15 to 60 tons per year.
* Of the 1200 species listed as threatened or endangered, 50% depend on rivers and streams.
* In the Pacific Northwest, over 100 stocks and subspecies of salmon and trout have gone extinct and another 200 are at risk due to a host of factors, dams and the loss of riparian habitat being prime factors.
* One mature tree in a riparian area can filter as much as 200 pounds of nitrates runoff per year.
* At least 9.6 million households and $390 billion in property lie in flood prone areas in the United States. The rate of urban growth in floodplains is approximately twice that of the rest of the country.
* The average single-family home uses 80 gallons of water each day in the winter and 120 gallons in the summer. Showering, bathing and using the toilet account for about two-thirds of the average family^s water usage.
* Water use in the United States alone leaped from 330 million gallons per day in 1980 to 408 million gallons per day in 1990, despite a decade of improvements in water-saving technology.
* Water used around the house for such things as drinking, cooking, bathing, toilet flushing, washing clothes and dishes, watering lawns and gardens, maintaining swimming pools, and washing cars accounts for only 1% of all the water used in the U.S. each year.
* Eighty percent of the fresh water we use in the U.S. is for irrigating crops and generating thermoelectric-power.
* More than 87% of the water consumed in Utah is used for agriculture and irrigation.
* Per capita water use in the western U.S. is much higher than in any other region, because of agricultural needs in this arid region. In 1985, daily per capita consumption in Idaho was 22,200 gallons versus 152 gallons in Rhode Island.
* A corn field of one acre gives off 4,000 gallons of water per day in evaporation.
* The average person needs 2 quarts of water a day.
* It takes about 6 gallons of water to grow a single serving of lettuce. More than 2,600 gallons is required to produce a single serving of steak.
* It takes almost 49 gallons of water to produce just one eight-ounce glass of milk. That includes water consumed by the cow and to grow the food she eats, plus water used to process the milk.
* About 6,800 gallons of water is required to grow a day^s food for a family of four.
* The average American consumes 1,500 pounds of food each year; 1,000 gallons of water are required to grow and process each pound of that food. -- 1.5 million gallons of water is invested in the food eaten by just one person! This 200,000-cubic-feet-plus of water-per-person would be enough to cover a football field four feet deep.
* About 39,090 gallons of water is needed to make an automobile, tires included.
* If all the water in the Great Lakes was spread evenly across the continental U.S., the ground would be covered with almost 10 feet of water.
* One gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds.