Reducing your overall water footprint is important because our freshwater resources in this country and around the world are being threatened. Only 3% of all the water in the world is freshwater, and of that 3%, only 1% is accessible and useable by humans.
Given current water consumption rates, the United Nations has predicted that 2.7 billion people across 48 nations will face severe water shortages by the year 2025. In the United States alone, a recent government survey showed that at least 36 states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013. Forecasts such as this have prompted many scientists to predict that the next major crises we will face as a society will not be over energy or economics, but instead over water. Water use reduction is a cornerstone to a sustainable future for us all.
The Water Footprint Calculator relies on the concept of virtual water – the water it takes to create the products and energy we use – to help estimate your water footprint. The average American directly uses about 176 gallons per day, as measured by the USGS, but much of our water consumption comes from indirect, or "virtual" use, i.e., the water embedded in food, energy and consumer goods. Comprehending the magnitude of our virtual water use helps raise public awareness about the importance of broader water conservation efforts beyond just turning off the tap.
Where Do We Use Most of Our Water?
- What you eat and drink accounts for most of your water footprint because almost one third of all water withdrawn in the United States is used for agriculture.
- A typical household uses thousands of gallons of water each year for things like toilets, showers and lawn watering.
- The average family of four indirectly uses hundreds of gallons of water per day if their electricity is produced by power plants that rely on outdated cooling water systems. Such plants account for nearly half of all water withdrawn in the United States.
- It takes a lot of water to make the consumer goods and services that you use and buy everyday.
Calculate your water footprint and learn more about saving water at