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September 19, 2010 / Ann Porter

Your Water Footprint

Your water footprint extends beyond the average 80-100 gallons of water you use everyday and includes the water used to produce the goods and services you buy.

You may think your morning coffee has 12 ounces of water in it but it is actually closer to 40.

Conservation Scientists say most people are unaware of how much fresh water they are consuming and they believe it’s time we become aware of how much water goes into growing, manufacturing, and shipping our food, and about where exactly that water originated.

A product water footprint is the total volume of freshwater consumed, directly and indirectly, to produce a product. A full water footprint assessment considers the impacts of this water consumption on local watersheds, as well as appropriate response strategies to minimize those impacts.

Water footprint assessments can be helpful in supporting corporate water stewardship efforts by providing a tool to measure and understand water use throughout the supply chain.

As part of World Water Week, the Coca-Cola company recently released its water footprint report. Coca-Cola says the research to produce the report will be helpful to improving their water conservation strategies. (Note: The Global Agriculture and the Soft Drink Industry face the largest pressure to justify water usage.)

Research found that the value of a product water footprint is its ability to disaggregate water use by component, allowing both direct and indirect water use to be examined, as well as the different types of water that are used. The types of water are green water, which is rainwater stored in the soil as moisture; blue water, which is surface and ground water; and grey water, which is the volume of freshwater required to assimilate pollutants based on existing ambient water quality standards. Keeping the components of a water footprint separate allows impacts to be assessed in the context of local watersheds where the water is being sourced.

If you’d like to get a little insight into your own water footprint visit WeCalc (ww.wecalc.org). While domestic consumption is only 1% of the nation’s total consumption of water it still affects the overall impact on water scarcity.

For more information about a transition towards sustainable, fair and efficient use of fresh water resources worldwide visit the Water Footprint Network and the National Geographic Freshwater website.

Still want to dig deeper?  Learn the water footprint of the food you eat and the things you buy.

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