Monday, March 24, 2008

Water footprint

Those of you who have been around here a little bit know that I work in water treatment, therefore I take interest in issues relating to water use and conservation. Water seems to be in the news quite a bit lately, whether it's the drought in the Southeast affecting many of the region's lakes and reservoirs, or the recent news about pharmaceuticals being found in many cities' drinking water supplies. You may be curious about your own water use, and this is where the Water Calculator comes in.

You will probably be surprised by how much water you are responsible for using each day. From the website:

Using the Calculator lets you know what your “water footprint” is. In other words, it gives you an estimate of the total amount of water you use. Your water footprint takes into account not only the water used in your home, but also the water that is used to produce the food you choose to eat and the products you buy. Your water footprint also includes other factors such as the water used to cool the power plants that provide your electricity, and the water that it saved when you recycle. You may not drink, feel or see this water, but it makes up the large majority of your water footprint.

I found that I use 1158.44 gallons of water daily, slightly below the national average of 1190.5 gallons per day.

You can also find on the website tips for decreasing your water use, from installing water-saving shower heads, toilets and faucets to collecting rainwater for gardening. One of the biggest ways to save water is altering your diet. Modern agricultural practices use tremendous amounts of water. It takes 1500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, and 287 gallons to produce one pound of chicken, if you take into account all the water used to grow the animal's feed and the water used in processing. When you also consider the pollution caused by pesticide and fertilizer runoff, you begin to notice the drawbacks of our factory farm system that has also pushed so many small farmers of the land. By eating less meat, and more fruits and vegetables, we not only benefit our health, we also use water more efficiently as well.