What is Water Footprint?

What is Water Footprint?

Everything that we purchase, wear, consume, eat and sell requires significant amounts of water. Therefore, we can easily answer the question: what is water footprint, by saying that footprint measures the amount of water used to produce specific services and goods that we use.

We can measure this particular footprint as a single process such as growing potatoes, for instance, as well as for products such as a jacket that we ear, for a multi-national company or for the fuel that we place in our cars so that we can drive from point A to point B.

Therefore, the water footprint tells us how much water we consume both globally and in a specific country. Understand that footprint includes the measure of human consumption of fresh water as well as the volumes of polluted and consumed water as well.

This particular information will allow us to understand the wide array of questions for governments, companies, and individuals such as:

  • Are regulations protecting the overall amount of water resources?
  • Is water dependence vital to your company's suppliers?
  • Are our energy and food supplies secure for the future?
  • What can we do to reduce water footprint so that we can avoid natural and consumerist disasters?

Everything depends on the question that you wish to ask, but you will be able to measure water footprint in cubic meters per tones of production, per unit of currency, per hectare of cropland or in other functional units that will help you create a valid measurement.

At the same time, this particular statistical approach will help us understand for which reasons people and companies are using freshwater resources and how they are becoming polluted in the end.

The impact water footprint features depend on where and when you take the water from. In case you take it from the area in which you cannot find enough percentage of water, the overall consequences can require immediate action and you need to do something about it.

We can differentiate three components of water footprint: grey, blue and green.

When you combine these compounds together, you will get a clear picture of water use as well as water that we consume, and the volume of freshwater that you need so that you can assimilate all pollutants.

Differences between Direct and Indirect Water Consumption

Have in mind that water footprint can include both indirect and direct water use of a product, process, sector or company that requires water pollution and consumption throughout a production cycle from the factory to the user.

At the same time, you will be able to measure the footprint based on the amount of water you need to produce specific types of services and goods for a specific community, individual, or company.

We are talking about creating a direct water footprint, which includes water directly used by individuals in combination with an indirect footprint, which summarizes the amount of water used for products that are surrounding us.

Different Types of Water Footprints

Green Water Footprint

When it comes to green footprint, it includes water from precipitation, which is in the root zone of the soil, and the percentage of water that plants are transpiring and evaporating. It is an efficient way to determine the amount of water usage for forestry, horticultural and agricultural products.

Blue Water Footprint

This particular type includes water that we source from the surface or by using groundwater resources and incorporate into a product taken from one part and returned changed afterward. It includes situations such as industry, irrigated agriculture, as well as domestic water usage.

Gray Water Footprint

Finally, gray footprint includes the amount of fresh water we need to assimilate pollutants so that we can meet standards that are required. Therefore, it consists of point-source pollution, which companies or individual are discharging from freshwater resources through pipes. At the same time, it can be indirect through leaching from the soil, runoff, diffuse sources and impervious surfaces.

How Does Water Use and Consumption Relate?

The main idea when it comes to water footprint is included in the ability to determine and recognize how humans are impacting the freshwater system, which means that it is highly connected to human consumption.

At the same time, issues such as pollution and water shortages can be well addressed and understood if you have the footprint percentage especially by considering supply chains and production in general.

Have in mind that water issues and scarcity are completely connected with the global economy that surrounds us. Therefore, numerous countries all across the globe have found ways to reduce the water footprint, by importing goods from other places.

That creates significant pressure on water resources especially in exporting regions, where mechanisms for safe water conservation and governance is lousy and can create severe pollution.

We can easily say that consumers, businesses, society communities apart from governments are also playing a significant role in achieving the best management of water consumption and resources that will remain intact.

Facts about Water Footprint You Should Know

  • Remember that for one kilo of beef, you will need 15 thousand liters of water. That huge problem affects the world that surrounds us. The precise footprint depends on numerous factors such as the composition of the feed as well as the production system but has in mind that it may affect the general scarcity.
  • For instance, one soy burger requires 160 liters of water, which is also a significant amount when you compare with other types of food that we consume. At the same time, for a beef burger, you will need a thousand liters in overall.
  • In China, which is the country with most residents, the consumption of water is 1070 cubic meters per year, and approximately 10% of it falls outside this particular country.
  • On the other hand, the water footprint of people that are US citizens is 2840 cubic meter per year, and 20% includes external footprint. Therefore, we can easily say that the USA is the largest external water consumer and it lies in China, particularly the Yangtze River Basin.