The Water Footprint app shows the required volume (litres) of freshwater to produce a range of agricultural products (1 kilogram). For example, approximately 15 thousand litres of water is required to produce a single kilogram of beef. In comparison, 285 litres of water is needed to grow a kilo of potatoes.
Why should I care?
Agriculture accounts for the largest consumption of global freshwater. Three times more water is used in agriculture than the amount used for all other industries. Furthermore, for irrigation, the amount of water used is several times greater than that for household purposes which includes water for drinking, washing, bathing and gardening.
Freshwater used for agricultural purposes comes from three primary resources: rainwater, surface and groundwater. These resources are unequally distributed. Some regions of our planet hold abundant reserves of freshwater while others experience significant shortages. At the same time, the world population is growing while consumption of agricultural products is increasing. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important for us to be informed of and to identify the water footprint of agricultural products. This information will help us to regulate water consumption and sustain our scarce freshwater resources.
How is the water footprint calculated?
The water footprint of a product is the sum total of the water footprints of all steps taken to produce it. For example, the water footprint of an animal product consists of different components: the indirect water footprint of the feed and the direct water footprint related to the drinking water and service water consumed. The water footprints of crops and animal products vary across countries and regions. The water footprints shown in this app are global averages.
Data used in this app is released under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License and is derived from the following publications:
1) Mekonnen, M.M. and Hoekstra, A.Y. (2011) The green, blue and grey water footprint of crops and derived crop products, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 15, 1577-1600.
2) Mekonnen, M.M. and Hoekstra, A.Y. (2012) A global assessment of the water footprint of farm animal products, Ecosystems, 15, 401-415.
Water Footprint is open source
Find the links to the source code on this web page:
Feedback is welcome
Feel free to contact me at evgenii.com.