The answer to the question of why is water footprint significant is comprehensive, and we can make a book out of it.
You have to consider all the activities that you do from the moment you wake up until you fall asleep to understand the amount of water that you consume directly and indirectly.
When we calculate the overall amount, you should know that we tend to consume between 130 and 150 liters of water daily. That is not all the water that we drink every day.
If you think about things you consumed today such as food, have in mind that the bread you are eating, for instance, requires water to grow, transport it to the bakery, bake it and create a plastic bag in which you purchased it.
Besides, we are not talking about other ingredients such as sugar that are also affecting the unique flavor of the bread. Similarly, things we wear as well as clothes require water for their production and manufacturing, which spends the water in general.
When you think how many products you eat, consume, purchase, sell, wear, and make daily, and when combined both direct and indirect water usage, we tend to drink approximately 3500 liters daily.
Almost every single item that we use requires water in one stage of production, and the best way to understand the idea of indirect consumption of water is with food. When you cook rice, you will need water to do it.
However, think about how many water manufacturers used to grow it in the first place. According to statistics, manufacturers require 2700 liters of water to produce one pound of polished rice.
Have in mind that water footprint includes measurement of the amount of water required by institution, community, individual or country that we use daily either indirectly (through the food we consume, the energy we use, products that we buy and many more) and directly (through the tap for the consumption).
Therefore, the water footprint includes the sum of all water that has been used for various stages of production and manufacturing. At the same time, 70% of the water that we consume daily is based on products that are considered as indirect consumption.
Every single stage of making some product requires some amount of water. For instance, a pair of jeans requires 10 thousand liters of water to make a single pair. For producing denim, you have to harvest the cotton, gin it, spun and wove it into the fabric.
Then the fabric is dyed by using toxic mordents and synthetic indigo that enters waterways and poisons and pollutes them throughout the process.
Soon afterward, they are washing the fabric, create a textured look, and distress it again with a chemical process that will pollute drinking water sources.
Bleaching and acid washing of jeans requires using chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide and potassium permanganate, which are highly toxic to both animals and humans. In the case of stone washing, the fabric has to be rubbed with a pumice stone, and its dust will affect the water.
As soon as jeans are riveted and sewn, manufacturers are packing them into plastic bags (that individually feature large water footprint) and transported for miles so that you can purchase them in a retail store.
Every single step we have mentioned above from manufacturing to distribution requires both direct and indirect water footprint. Direct one includes the process that becomes indirect at the next level.
In this particular example, you need the water to grow the cotton, which is direct water footprint, but soon afterward, it becomes an indirect one when the manufacturers start to process it into the fabric.
Have in mind that water footprint is an indicator of the amount of water that you have been using daily. When it comes to products, it is an indication of how efficiently you have been using the water during the production cycle - from the supply to the end-user.
The ISO has developed ISO 14046, which is an essential standard for any industry in the world that needs to examine the efficiency of their processes as well as determine the water which is embodied in their services and products throughout the life cycle.
Therefore, this particular standard will provide a yardstick to industries so that they can evaluate all processes and measure the natural capital costs so that international organizations could determine how to manage water resources and improve sustainability in the future.
Have in mind that water footprint can be grey, blue, and green based on the water source user as well as the volume of freshwater that you need for carrying-off pollutants and restoring the water quality.
The water footprint is highly important measurement since we entered the point of environmental conscience and ability to create alternative sources of energy that do not depend on water in general.
At the same time, an industry that surrounds us is energy and water-intensive, which means that it puts the pressure on water resources that are already scarce, they are contaminating freshwater and causing problems that organizations and nations should address as soon as possible.
According to estimations, by 2030 under the current economic growth, the demand for water will increase by 40%, and that will overshadow the scarce supply.
The water footprint is the best framework that will help governments as well as organizations to create policies and to control the private sector as well as individual consumption and water usage so that the amount of freshwater can remain for people to consume.