What’s Your Water Footprint?

Your Water Footprint is Probably Bigger than You Think:  Virtual Water

It’s just barely July and already many of Montana’s communities have implemented water restrictions. The Montana Governor has declared a Statewide Drought Emergency and farmers and ranchers are facing water shortages that are resulting in lower yields of hay and may force them to sell off cattle early.

During a drought, the majority of Montanans dutifully conserve water as best they know how to do –reducing how often they water their lawn (or removing water-intensive grass totally), installing low-flow faucets and shower heads, ensuring pipelines are free of leaks, and turning off the tap when washing dishes or brushing their teeth.

But is this enough as the west continues in this years-long megadrought?

Perhaps it is time for every Montanan to calculate their water footprint, learn how much virtual water their lifestyle consumes, and then find ways to save a few more gallons a day because water scarcity — and talking about how our communities can achieve water security — are conversations that are hear to stay for the foreseeable future.

Water Footprint = water from the tap + virtual water consumed. But, what is virtual water?

According to the Water Foot Print Calculator, virtual water is:

also called “embedded water” or “indirect water,” is the water “hidden” in the products, services and processes people buy and use every day. Although virtual water goes unseen by the end-user of a product or service, that water has been consumed throughout the value chain, which makes creation of that product or service possible.

In a nutshell, virtual water is the water used to produce the food, electricity, gas, and home goods people use every day.  As the end user, you don’t see that water consumption, but out of sight should not be out of mind when it comes to water use. As Maya Angelou reminds us:

Do the best that you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.

Calculate your Water Footprint with this Online Calculator and, when you know better, find ways to reduce your water consumption and do better.