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What's Your Water Footprint?

While a lot of attention has been paid in the past several years to one's Carbon Footprint (which is, of course, an important piece of the environmental puzzle to watch), the consumption of water is not often brought into consideration. The Nature Conservancy recently posted about research done by the Water Footprint Network. This research states that the average American has a water footprint of 32,911 glasses per day. The Water Footprint Network identifies a water footprint as a measure of the hidden water that is involved in various processes (manufacturing, agriculture, etc.). 

There are economic and environmental benefits to a business or industry assessing its water footprint. In the Nature Conservancy's interview with Brian Richter (Director of the Global Freshwater Program), Richter makes an excellent point about how a company should approach calculating their water footprint as  "a sustainability assessment". Such an assessment would tell "the company whether it is at risk of running out of water because of overuse in the watershed, or whether their water use might be causing undesirable ecological or social impacts that could put a company’s reputation at risk."  While Richter acknowledges the need to address the water footprint on the local scale, there are undeniable global ramifications as well.

However, just as with carbon footprints, there are a number of factors that contribute to an individual's or a business’ water footprint. Thus, it can be difficult to get an accurate and comprehensive gauge of the water footprint. Nevertheless, it’s certainly important for businesses to begin analyzing their impact on local watersheds.

What are your thoughts on the concept of the Water Footprint? Do you think it’s helpful or not very useful?

Learn more at the Water Footprint Network's website.

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