When we refer to a country facing an acute scarcity of water, we use the compound adjective 'water-stressed' for that country.

But what do you call a country that has enough water for drinking, crops, forests, etc?

Can I call that country 'water-abundant' or 'water-sufficient'? I am still not satisfied with those terms, because I couldn't find them through Google.

Also, the term 'well-watered' is mainly used for smaller areas (e.g., towns, villages, etc.) but not for cities or countries, as most of Google search results show.


6 Answers 6


But what do you call a country that has enough water for drinking, crops, forests, etc?

You should realize you're talking about two separate things:

1. Natural use of rainfall.

Countries (like Israel as opposed to Arabia) or regions (like South China as opposed to the North) are usually described as


Plentifully supplied or moistened with water...

Quarterly Review, Apr. 1919, p. 347:

The stirring population... of well-wooded and well-watered Asturias and Galicia.

Well-watered countries are going to have natural grasslands and forests, although not necessarily rain forests or troubles with monsoons.

This follows the word's original usage, which referred to good-but-not-swampy farmland. There are other terms for 'supplied with rain' or 'water' like 'rainful' or 'hydrated' but they aren't typically used in reference to land.

2. Human use of any sources.

North China, Southern California, and Saudi Arabia are none of them well-watered, but they (thus far) do not generally suffer from insufficient water because humans tap groundwater, syphon distant lakes and divert rivers, use petrol to power massive desalination plants, &c. On current weather patterns, they may not be able to maintain large forests or even abundant grasslands, but they're (thus far) able to ensure sufficient water supplies for their agricultural and residential needs.

This is not a natural state and not a problem under discussion, so there doesn't seem to be any set way to describe it in English.

For example, the UN—which deals abundantly with water as one of its global issues—contrasts "water scarcity" with "access to sufficient water for personal and domestic use";¹ "water crisis" with "an adequate supply of quality water";² "scarcity and misuse of fresh water" and "water scarcity and pollution" with "water and land resources... managed more effectively", "apparent security of existing water resources... and... sustainability of future supplies", and "integrated water-resources management";³ "the growing scarcity of water" with "environmentally sustainable development"; "water stress" and "water shortages and lack of access" with "good access to drinking water and sanitation"; "water stress" and "water risk" with "water security"; &c. It mentions "reasonable access to safe and ample water supplies" and "availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all".

Obviously, there are terms you can use. The best are:


Rich in water; ant. of water-poor.

Ignace Steiner, Elementary Reader, German & English, 1846, Vol. II, p. 281:

Lot... went to Sodom, which water-rich like a garden was.

UN Water, "Asia and the Pacific", 3 September 2014:

Water-rich countries, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Bhutan and Papua New Guinea, are facing urban water supply and quality constraints.



Possessing an abundant supply of water; ant. of water-scarce.

FAO, "Coping with Water Scarcity", 22 March 2007, p. 6:

In many countries, especially the larger ones, there are both water-scarce and water-abundant areas, such as in Brazil, China, and Mexico.

Betsy Otto, World Resources Institute, "New Study Raises Question: What Don't We Know about Water Scarcity?", 29 May 2013:

Even in places that are historically water-abundant, growth in water demand is outstripping available supply.



Possessing a secure water supply, lacking water insecurity.

UN High Level Panel on Water, "Making Every Drop Count: An Agenda for Water Action", 14 March 2018, p. 26:

¹ Winpenny, J. (2015), Water: Fit to Finance? Catalyzing National Growth through Investment in Water Security, report of the High Level Panel on Financing Infrastructure for a Water-Secure World.

Global Water Partnership, "The Water Challenge", 15 February 2017:

A water secure world means ending fragmented responsibility for water and integrating water resources management across all sectors—finance, planning, agriculture, energy, tourism, industry, education, and health.

'Water-sufficient' and 'water-sustainable' do show up occasionally (e.g., here and here) but much less often, particularly at the UN & NGOs.

However, go back and look at the UN examples from before. Their main idea (and that of the NGOs and other professionals in this field) is that you shouldn't use these words, except in reference to that distant shore where lambs lie down with lions, e'ery valley rises up, e'ery mountain and hill lays low, e'ery rough land is level, e'ery rugged place is made a plain, and the industrialized world curbs its carbon emissions. Even (especially?) the places that seem sufficient now have regions of insufficiency, have unsustainable water management, and remain insecure in the face of ongoing pollution and climate change. Talking about them as if they were already autarkic is irresponsible because no region on earth should behave as though it were sustainably self-sufficient into the indefinite future.

TL;DR: Go with 'water-rich' to reference the unequal access countries have to the world's water resources; go with 'water-abundant' to reference that some country just has a lot of water; use 'water-secure' to reference that some country does not suffer from water scarcity; but, better still, don't use any of them if you can help it. Current best practice is to focus on major scarcity where it exists and improvements to resource management where it doesn't.

  • 1
    Your answer cleared my every doubt. Meanwhile, I can use compound adjectives distinctively, as in: "to make any country water-abundant/water-sufficient/water-rich, we must first of all make it a water-secure country". Am I right?
    – Ahmed
    Jul 11, 2018 at 6:55
  • @IqbalAhmedSiyal Not exactly. Again, 'water rich' is usually going to be used in a sentence or sense that contrasts it with the less lucky or mistreated 'water poor' areas; it and 'water abundant' aren't usually going to be talking about things people think they can change; they're more just descriptive of well-watered countries. 'Water sufficient' could work but (a) isn't that common and
    – lly
    Jul 11, 2018 at 7:00
  • (b) isn't really what you'd mean. Since the goal is to deal with water scarcity in a way that establishes water security, it'd be more natural to say something like, "to establish water security, we must first of all deal with misuse of a country's water resources. This occurs in water-rich countries as well as water-poor ones, creating waste and limiting access to water due to higher prices."
    – lly
    Jul 11, 2018 at 7:04
  • "Countries which seem water-abundant at the moment may resist attempts to reduce waste, but limiting access to clean water and effective sanitation is a violation of the human rights of the world's poor. Meanwhile, even very arid countries can become water-sufficient with proper stewardship of the resources available to them."
    – lly
    Jul 11, 2018 at 7:07
  • I understood it now.
    – Ahmed
    Jul 11, 2018 at 7:53

This is not going to be a broad neither delineating, 100% reliable answer but its based on my own experience and studies about energy and especially the geopolitics of it.

Among many many factors affecting a nations geopolitics in energy area, "energy self-sufficiency" plays an important role and "I" think its the unique phenomenon shaping the whole pie of what we call "geopolitics of energy".

Energy self-sufficiency for an economy means the net domestic production meets net domestic demand, for other vital resources such as food and water the same trend exists: food self-sufficiency and the one you may find helpful "water self-sufficiency", respectively.

So the word I would suggest for the usage you wanted is: a water self-sufficient country.

To shed further light on the subject, you may want to reach this article:

The Rise of Water and Energy Self-Sufficiency

In energy context its quite common to say a nation is "energy secure" or not, for example the US was pretty reliant on Arabian oil supply and their economy was stormed with up-rushing oil prices after 1973's Oil Embargo.

So I thought the same expression may exist for water, and fortunately it does.( Source is mentioned below.)

So, if you are looking for an alternatives to the above-mentioned phrase, "Water secure" is another option.

usage of water secure/water-secure in news:

Mapped: The countries that will face the biggest water shortages by 2040:

These were Bahrain, Kuwait, Palestine, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Lebanon. These countries, it says, are among the least water-secure in the world.

If you are still not convinced with these phrases, you can check the link below for more self-sufficient synonyms and add the to "water", like water-sufficient, water self-sustaining and more:


Hope this answer helps.

  • 1
    water self-sufficient country sounds terrible. insufficient water supply is the idea.
    – Lambie
    Jul 10, 2018 at 18:41
  • 2
    and both are not one word
    – lbf
    Jul 10, 2018 at 18:47
  • 2
    @ibf no the second one is used as a single word, "water -secure" is a compound noun with a hyphen between its components, you can check the second provided link. Jul 10, 2018 at 19:49
  • 2
    @Lambie One of us is misunderstanding the question :) Jul 10, 2018 at 19:52
  • No, I have changed mine. Yours is the correct meaning but I would not say it that way.
    – Lambie
    Jul 10, 2018 at 21:50

"Well-watered" is the common term for areas that get enough, rainfall especially, water to grow crops, livestock etc... The main example that comes to mind is the Willamette Valley in Oregon which is often referred to as "some of the most well-watered farmland in the world".

Such a climate may also be described simply as a "wet" climate; scientifically a wet climate denotes one that receives more than a certain lower limit of annual precipitation but colloquially it just means it rains a lot and/or rains in all seasons of the year.

  • 1
    "Well-watered" refers to principally to abundant rainfall. It's the most used and natural-sounding phrase for this general idea but doesn't really address the specific context.
    – lly
    Jul 11, 2018 at 4:32
  • 1
    In addition to the comment of @lly, "well-watered" is mainly used for smaller areas e.g. Town, village, etc. Not for cities or countries, as most of Google Search results show.
    – Ahmed
    Jul 11, 2018 at 6:06

Answering my own question, I got two opposing terms—water-rich and water-poor—and I am sure this fits my needs.

“Water-rich” countries have access to clean water and “water-poor” countries lack or have only limited clean-water access.

References: The website "The Water Rich vs. the Water Poor".

Your comments and corrections are welcomed.

  • This also showed up at ELL and is sometimes used by the UN, but see my answer below.
    – lly
    Jul 11, 2018 at 6:47
  • Sometimes, I wish I hadn't bothered. Sure, water-rich and water-poor works in some contexts. A water-rich country would have a sufficient supply of water....yet, I was downvoted.
    – Lambie
    Jul 12, 2018 at 14:23

"Replete with water resources"

But space and time deal very unfairly with certain parts of the world: while some regions and periods experience scarcity, others are replete with water resources.

Wastewater Reuse - Risk Assessment, Decision-Making and Environmental Security edited by Mohammed K. Zaidi


Transboundary rivers are a source of political tension globally and this region, replete with water resources, is no exception. To put this in context, about 40 percent of the world's population relies on shared water resources2 and as regards to China, over a third of the country is an international river basin, with 18 shared rivers.3

Geopolitical Risk Of Transboundary Rivers In Asia August 24th, 2013


While Russia has control of natural gas pipelines throughout the post-soviet region, Georgia is not lacking in energy sources of its own. The country is replete with water resources that, matched with the low costs of energy production, make it optimal for hydropower development. Locally spearheaded development of Georgian hydropower potential could undercut Russian companies’ strong ownership stakes within Georgia’s energy sector and reduce the ability of the Russian state to exert economic pressure on its southern neighbor.

Charged Up: How Georgia’s energy future could change geopolitics James JanisonAUGUST 18, 2015


  • 1
    "Replete" will do in this context, but I don't think it's the best word. A person who has had a large fine meal is replete, or full. We would say that a pond is full of water, not replete with water. I think that, in this context, "rich in water resources" would be better.
    – tautophile
    Jul 8, 2018 at 16:22
  • @tautophile I think you are right... "Replet" is used mainly to refer to any food being full. "Replet" can be acceptable in some cases, not in every case.
    – Ahmed
    Jul 8, 2018 at 18:03
  • @IqbalAhmedSiyal Replete is not mainly used that way. In fact, I have never in my life heard it used that way. I have only heard it in the more modern and broader sense of full, complete, or satiated. I think it hasn't been much used to mean well fed or plump, or just having eaten, for a century or more. See MW entry for replete, and listen to the Word of the Day podcast there. I couldn't find a single instance of that usage of replete in Google Ngrams going back to 1815, when I gave up looking.
    – Phil Sweet
    Jul 12, 2018 at 1:26

a country with sufficient availability of water resources and a country with a sufficient water supply or a country with an adequate water supply

Water scarcity is the lack of sufficient available water resources to meet the demands of water usage within a region. From the article below

or sufficient water supply or sufficient available water resources

insufficient water supply, ergo sufficient can also work

https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/water_scarcity.htmwater scarcity


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