Sustainable Development Goals - 17 Goals to Transform our World

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Indicator 6.4.2: Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources

Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources

This table provides metadata for the actual indicator available from US statistics closest to the corresponding global SDG indicator. Please note that even when the global SDG indicator is fully available from US statistics, this table should be consulted for information on national methodology and other US-specific metadata information.

Actual indicator available
Actual indicator available - description
Date of national source publication
Method of computation The indicator is computed as the total freshwater withdrawn (TWW) divided by the difference between the total renewable freshwater resources (TRWR) and the environmental water requirements (Env.), multiplied by 100. All variables are expressed in km3/year (10^9 m3/year). Stress (%) = ( TWW / TRWR - Env. ) * 100 It is proposed to classify the level of water stress in three main categories (levels): low, high and very high. The thresholds for the indicator could be country specific, to reflect differences in climate and national water management objectives. Alternatively, uniform thresholds could be proposed using existing literature and taking into account environmental water requirements.
Scheduled update by national source
U.S. method of computation
Comments and limitations
Date metadata updated
Disaggregation geography
Unit of measurement
Disaggregation categories
International and national references
Time period
Scheduled update by SDG team

This table provides information on metadata for SDG indicators as defined by the UN Statistical Commission. Complete global metadata is provided by the UN Statistics Division.

Indicator name Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources
Target name By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.
Global indicator description The ratio between total freshwater withdrawn by all major sectors and total renewable freshwater resources, after having taken into account environmental water requirements. Main sectors, as defined by ISIC standards, can include for example agriculture; forestry and fishing; manufacturing; electricity industry; and municipalities. This indicator is also known as water withdrawal intensity. The indicator builds on MDG indicator 7.5 and also accounts for environmental water requirements.This indicator provides an estimate of pressure by all sectors on the country's renewable freshwater resources. A low level of water stress indicates a situation where the combined withdrawal by all sectors is marginal in relation to the resources, and has therefore little potential impact on the sustainability of the resources or on the potential competition between users. A high level of water stress indicates a situation where the combined withdrawal by all sectors represents a substantial share of the total renewable freshwater resources, with potentially larger impacts on the sustainability of the resources and potential situations of conflicts and competition between users. Total renewable freshwater resources (TRWR) are expressed as the sum of internal and external renewable water resources. The terms "water resources" and "water withdrawal" are understood here as freshwater resources and freshwater withdrawal. Internal renewable water resources are defined as the long-term average annual flow of rivers and recharge of groundwater for a given country generated from endogenous precipitation. External renewable water resources refer to the flows of water entering the country, taking into consideration the quantity of flows reserved to upstream and downstream countries through agreements or treaties (and, where available, the reduction of flow due to upstream withdrawal). Total freshwater withdrawal (TWW) is the volume of freshwater extracted from its source (rivers, lakes, aquifers) for agriculture, industries and municipalities. It is estimated at the country level for the following three main sectors: agriculture, municipalities (including domestic water withdrawal) and industries. Freshwater withdrawal includes primary freshwater (not withdrawn before), secondary freshwater (previously withdrawn and returned to rivers and groundwater) and fossil groundwater. It does not include non-conventional water, i.e. direct use of treated wastewater, direct use of agricultural drainage water and desalinated water. TWW is in general calculated as being the sum of total water withdrawal by sector minus direct use of wastewater, direct use of agricultural drainage water and use of desalinated water. Environmental water requirements (Env.) are established in order to protect the basic environmental services of freshwater ecosystems. Methods of computation of Env. are extremely variable. For the purpose of the SDG indicator, Env. are expressed as a percentage of the available water resources. More details on method of calculation of the above variables can be found at or
UN designated tier 1
UN custodial agency FAO (Partnering Agencies: UNEP, IUCN, UNSD, OECD, Eurostat)
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Agency Staff Name
Agency Survey Dataset
Link to data source

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