I just went to Waterfootprint.org to measure my water footrprint. At first I did the “quickie” calculator – my results were 2095 cubic meter per year – but I wasn’t satisfied because the only questions it asked were: what country to you live in? Are you male or female? What is your annual income? How much meat do you eat? I was expecting a bit more detail then that, but I am familiar with just how complicated these sorts of calculations can be.
On to the “extended” calculator. I can’t figure it out – off the top of my head, I don’t know how many kilograms of cereal and dairy products I eat per week. SO, I’m going to do a little bit of research into the “average” values for Canadians, and compare that to what I can estimate I consume in a week. The rest of the questions in this version of the calculator are more straight forward.
Coming back to my response to the film Blue Gold: World Water Wars…. I’ve done a little bit of researching, and a term that keeps coming up is water footprint and water neutral. Sounds familiar, right? Carbon footprint and carbon neutral. Well, the premise is very similar. According to the Institute for Water Education, the water footprint “is an indicator of water use that looks at both direct and indirect water use. The water footprint of a product (good or service) is the volume of fresh water used to produce the product, summed over the various steps of the production chain.
The ‘water footprint’ includes three components: consumptive use of rainwater (green water), consumptive use of water withdrawn from groundwater or surface water (blue water) and pollution of water (grey water).
A water footprint is more than a figure for the total water volume used; it refers specifically to the type of water use and where and when the water was used. “
Water neutral “means that one reduces the water footprint of an activity as much as reasonably possible and offsets the negative externalities of the remaining water footprint.”
Realistically, how much can we reduce our water footprint? How much should water offsets cost, and what would count as an offset? It doesn’t seem like there is clear international consensus on standards, guidelines, and definitions. I’ll keep digging…. maybe this is the Masters topic I’ve been looking for! 🙂
Follow Waterfootprint.org’s advice to reduce your water footprint:
- Adopt production techniques that use less water in industry as well as agriculture.
- Consume products with a lower water footprint, for instance, eat less meat.
- Produce products in areas with high water efficiency.
Check out their product gallery to see how much water your favorite foods consume