The concept of water footprint isn't quite as embedded in the consciousness as carbon footprint, but it's something that's gaining traction as governments, businesses and individuals face up to the looming water crisis. With measurement tools becoming more sophisticated and easier to use, anyone can now keep track of their water footprint and see what steps they can put in place to reduce how much water they use on a daily basis.
Water footprint refers to the volume of water used from all sources both directly in terms of consumption and indirectly in terms of what is required in the global production of goods. Water is used in the production of most things including food, clothing, electronic goods and energy. In fact, it is this indirect use for production – also sometimes called virtual water use – that makes up the vast majority of the global water footprint. For example, it takes around 15,000 litres of water to produce a single kilogram of beef.
The water footprint is broken down into three components
The water footprint is measured by calculating the total amount of water used both directly (water consumed for drinking, cleaning, etc. at household or organizational level) and indirectly (water used in the production of goods, energy, transport, etc. that is used and consumed).
Water footprints can be calculated at various different levels, for example national, regional/community, company/organization, household, individual and product/industry. So you can not only see what your individual water footprint is but also what the water footprint is for your country, your employer, and for various products you might consume. National water footprints are broken down into internal footprint (water sourced from inside the country) and external footprint (water sourced from overseas). The US is the biggest water consumer globally, with an average water footprint of 2,842 cubic metres per capita.
You can find water footprint measuring tools at:
With over 5 billion people – more than half the global population - at risk of facing water shortages in the coming decades, water footprints provide us with an important empirical resource when it comes to tackling these problems. Understanding water footprints helps us to:
There are many ways that both individuals and businesses can work to reduce their water footprint, including:
Discover how we can help you calculate your water footprint by visiting Water Experts’ website If you would like help in reducing your water footprint, get in touch with us at Water Experts. We can offer expert advice, help you carry out a water audit and supply water-sustainable technology such as our Q-Drop drinking water systems.