The water footprint quantifies the quantity of water utilized to generate each of the products and services we consume. It can be quantified for a specific operation, like as cultivating rice, for a product, such as a pair of jeans, for the gasoline we put in our cars, or for a multinational corporation as a whole. The water footprint can also reveal how much water a country – or the world as a whole – consumes from a certain river basin or aquifer.
The water footprint enables us to provide answers to a variety of concerns posed by businesses, governments, and individuals. For instance:
Where does my company's activities or supply chain rely on water?
How effectively do rules safeguard our water resources?
How reliable are our food and energy sources?
Can I lower my personal water footprint and contribute to the management of water for both humans and nature?
Depending on the question, the water footprint can be quantified in cubic metres per tonne of production, per hectare of agriculture, per unit of currency, as well as other functional units. The water footprint enables us to comprehend how our scarce freshwater resources are being consumed and contaminated. The influence varies on where and when the water is extracted. If it originates from a region where water is already scarce, the repercussions may be severe and demand intervention.
There are three components to the water footprint: green, blue, and gray. Together, these components provide a complete picture of water usage by identifying the source of water consumed, whether as precipitation/soil moisture, surface water, or groundwater, and the volume of fresh water necessary for the absorption of contaminants.
Direct and indirect usage of water
The water footprint considers both the direct and indirect water use of a process, product, or industry, as well as water consumption and pollution along the entire production cycle, from the supply chain to the final consumer.
It is also feasible to use the water footprint to calculate the quantity of water needed to generate all the goods and services used by an individual, a community, a nation, or the whole human population. This also comprises the direct water footprint, which is the amount of water used directly by the individual(s), and the indirect water footprint, which is the sum of the water footprints of all consumed products.