Sectoral use of water

Indicator Fact Sheet (Deprecated)
Prod-ID: IND-11-en
Also known as: WQ 002
Note: new version is available!
Topics: ,

Assessment made on  03 Oct 2003

Generic metadata



DPSIR: Pressure


Indicator codes
  • WQ 002

Policy issue:  In which sector is water use increasing/decreasing? Is the use of water by sectors sustainable?

Key messages

  • During the 1990s: There were decreases in water abstracted for agriculture, industry and urban use in central accession and central western countries, and in water used for energy production in southern western and central western countries

  • During the 1990s: There was a slight increasing trend in agricultural water use in southern western countries and in water abstracted for energy production in central accession countries


Key assessment

Sectors have different demands for water across Europe. On average, 33 % of total water abstraction in countries is used for agriculture, 16 % for urban use, 11 % for industry (excluding cooling), and 40 % for energy production.

Figure 5.6 shows the sectoral use of water per region in Europe. The southern accession countries and western southern countries use the largest percentages of abstracted water for agriculture (75 %, and 50 %, respectively). Irrigation is the most significant use of water in agriculture in southern countries. Western central and western accession countries are the largest users of water for energy production (including cooling water) (57 %), followed by urban use. In particular, Belgium, Germany and Estonia use more than half of the abstracted water for energy production.

The decrease of agricultural and industrial activities in central accession countries during the transition process led to decreases of about 70 % in water abstracted for agricultural and industrial uses in most of the countries (Figure 5.7). Agricultural activities reached their minima around the mid-1990s, but more recently countries are increasing crop and livestock production (EC, 2002). Data show a 30 % decrease in abstractions for public water supply (urban use) in central accession countries. In most of these countries, the new economic conditions led to water supply companies increasing the price of water and installing water meters in houses. This resulted in people using less water. Industries connected to the public systems also reduced their industrial production and hence water use. In most countries, the supply network is obsolete and losses in distribution systems require high abstraction volumes to maintain supply.

Download detailed information and factsheets

European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100