Water Footprint and Its Growing Importance

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The water footprint of products is increasingly emerging as a key component of Corporate Social Responsibility as buyers of goods and services, including recycling services, evaluate their purchase options.  

 What is Water Footprint?

Water Footprint refers to the amount of water used to produce different products and services we use. So, the amount of water used to produce a shoe or a shirt is the water footprint of that shoe or shirt.

More specifically, it is a measure of water use. It can be applicable for a product, a service, an individual, a household, a community, a country and even the whole world. An individual’s consumption of fresh water based on the products and services he or she uses or consumes per year is his or her water footprint. Someone who is always careful about using as less water as possible in his or her daily life will have less water footprint score than someone who is completely careless about it.

How Is Water Footprint Calculated?

Calculation of water footprint depends on for what you are calculating the water footprint.  Say, for example, when you are calculating water footprint of a shoe, you take into account water that was necessary to produce that shoe. The most common water footprint calculation is done for individuals, households and countries. When calculating an individual or household’s water footprint, that individual’s/ household’s yearly food consumption, domestic water use, outdoor water use and water use by industrial goods consumption are taken into consideration.

An individual may not drink, feel or see all the water he or she uses or consumes. But all the indirect use of water will be included in the calculation. This is called, “Virtual Water” and it actually makes up the most of our water footprint. http://www.watercalculator.org/ and http://waterfootprint.org/en/ are two of the most popular Water Footprint circulators available online.

Types of Water Footprint

There are three different types of water footprint; Green, Blue and Gray.

Green Water Footprint: It refers to the amount of rainwater required to produce a product. It is mainly relevant for forestry, horticultural and agricultural products.

Blue Water Footprint: It refers to the amount of groundwater or surface water required to produce a product. Domestic water use, industry and Irrigated agriculture can each have a blue water footprint.

Grey Water Footprint: It refers to the amount of freshwater required to incorporate dilute pollutants to meet particular water quality standards (like the standards set by the US Clean Water Act).

Growing Importance of Water Footprint

Measuring water footprint and taking all the necessary steps to keep water footprint level as low as

Measuring water footprint and taking all the necessary steps to keep water footprint level as low as possible is extremely important for mankind because freshwater is vital to our daily life but the supply of freshwater is limited. As the world population is growing, the need for fresh water is growing too but if we don’t take measures to keep water footprint level low, soon, we will be running short of fresh water.

Experts predict that by 2030 the demand of global freshwater will exceed supply by 40 percent. Reduced water supply will surely affect the worldwide manufacturing industry.

As mentioned before, the majority of the water footprint of an individual is the virtual water. That means the indirect consumption of water by consuming different products and services account for the most amount of water consumed by an individual. So, it’s the manufacturing companies that need to take steps to lessen the use of water in the production of their products.

The water footprint of countries indicates how careful and responsible the people and manufacturers of a country in terms of using water. A country with higher water footprint level is affecting the country with much less water footprint. So, water footprint is a global thing and the global community sooner or later will have to come to a consensus on the policies that can help all the countries keep their water footprint level minimum.