Edition 2021

Foto omschrijving: Two little girls in the shower

How much water do we consume?

In 2019, households used 130 litres of drinking water per person per day, which is a total of 818 billion litres (=818 million m3). Companies used 386 billion litres of mains water (=386 million m3) that year.

13,509 mln m3Energy supply9,374 mln m3Other (economy)3,989 mln m3Households818 mln m3Agriculture297 mln m3Water companies1,302 mln m3Groundwater1,144 mln m3Fresh surface waterDrinking waterSurface waterSaline surface waterHow much water do we consume?

From 2003 to 2014, household drinking water consumption per inhabitant fell by almost 8 percent, from 138 to 127.5 litres per person per day. This decrease in water use was partly due to household appliances becoming more economical. After 2014, consumption increased again somewhat. In 2018 and 2019, more water was used than in previous years due to the relatively dry conditions.

In recent years, water consumption has been erratic due to changing weather conditions. In relatively dry summers, households used more drinking water for watering the garden or filling swimming pools.

Drinking water consumption, daily average (litres per inhabitant)
Jaar Drinking water consumption
2003 138.0
2004 133.8
2005 132.8
2006 134.3
2007 132.2
2008 131.3
2009 131.0
2010 130.0
2011 128.6
2012 127.9
2013 128.2
2014 127.5
2015 128.7
2016 129.6
2017 129.6
2018 133.5
2019 129.7

Companies used 386 million cubic metres of mains water in 2019, almost 3 million more than in 2018. Mains water consists of drinking waternoot1 and industrial water.noot2 A fifth of the total mains water consumption by companies was industrial water in 2019.

Mains water consumption1 (million m3)
Jaar Households (drinking water) Companies (drinking water) Companies (industrial water)
2003 815.4 316.8 69.8
2004 796.2 302.8 69.6
2005 790.5 295.5 70.8
2006 800.7 297.3 70.7
2007 789.4 298.8 71.0
2008 788.4 304.8 69.5
2009 788.1 304.6 74.2
2010 786.2 303.4 80.4
2011 781.8 298.6 81.3
2012 783.0 287.4 78.0
2013 785.3 290.7 84.2
2014 783.3 284.6 83.5
2015 793.7 287.0 79.2
2016 805.3 290.0 83.9
2017 808.3 293.1 79.7
2018 837.2 302.8 80.6
2019 818.4 309.2 76.5
1)Mains water consists of drinking water and industrial water.

Less surface water used, but increase in 2019

Mains water is produced by water companies from surface and groundwater and, at 1.3 billion cubic metres, was a relatively small part of total water consumption. In total, 14.7 billion cubic metres were extracted from fresh or salt surface water and groundwater.

The extraction of surface water for the supply of drinking water, agriculture, energy provision and industry has decreased by 4 percent since 2003 to 13.5 billion in 2019. The decline is entirely due to fresh surface water, the use of which has decreased by 29 percent. In 2019, however, freshwater extraction increased by 5 percent compared to 2018.

Ever more salt water is being extracted for cooling purposes. Since 2003, its use has increased by 62 percent (mainly for energy provision). Cooling water is discharged into surface water following use, after which it can be reused, unlike irrigation water that evaporates or soaks into the soil. In 2019, agricultural water use was 77 percent higher than in 2017, but 15 percent lower than in 2018. More groundwater and surface water was used for irrigation in 2018 and 2019 than in previous years.

The questions


Drinking water

Water intended or partly intended for drinking, cooking or preparing food or for other household purposes (with the exception of hot tap water), which is made available to consumers or other users through pipes (definition from the Drinking Water Act). This water complies with the drinking water quality requirements and is produced from groundwater or surface water by water companies.

Industrial water

Water of a different quality to drinking water that is used, for example, in refineries, the chemical and the metal industry. In many cases industrial water is produced and supplied by special industrial water companies, but also by industrial companies themselves. The data on industrial water are incomplete: in particular, CBS does not have a complete picture of deliveries between industrial companies.


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Explanation of symbols

Empty cell figure not applicable
. figure is unknown, insufficiently reliable or confidential
* provisional figure
** revised provisional figure
(between two numbers) inclusive
0 (0.0) less than half of unit concerned
2016–2017 2016 to 2017 inclusive
2016/2017 average for the years 2016 up to and including 2017
2016/’17 crop year, financial year, school year etc., beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017
2004/’05–2016/’17 crop year etc. 2004/’05 up to and including 2016/’17

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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Concept & image editor

Irene van Kuik


Janneke Hendriks

Richard Jollie

Hendrik Zuidhoek


Ronald van der Bie

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

Michel van Kooten

Sidney Vergouw

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Karolien van Wijk

Gert Jan Wijma


Frans Dinnissen

Gaby de Vet

Taalcentrum VU

Final editor

Elma Wobma

We thank all CBS colleagues who have contributed to this edition of The Netherlands in numbers.