Watch your water footprint, says WaterAid

Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Watch your water footprint, says WaterAid

Food and clothing imports are preventing many poor and marginalised communities from getting a daily clean water supply, according to a new report from WaterAid. The report has found that wealthy western countries are importing products with considerable ‘water footprints’ — the amount of water used in production — from water-scarce countries.

In conjunction with World Water Day, WaterAid is calling on the sustainable production of goods and for consumers to be more thoughtful in their purchasing habits.

Products with large water footprints

According to WaterAid:

  • A cup of coffee may contain about 200 mL of water, but producing ground coffee requires 140 L of water.
  • Avocados have an estimated water footprint of almost 2000 L/kg.
  • Rice accounts for 40% of global irrigation and 17% of global groundwater depletion, with an average water footprint of 2500 L/kg.
  • Cotton is a thirsty fabric. Grown and produced in India, cotton has a water footprint of 22,500 L/kg. In Pakistan, average water consumption for cotton is 9800 L/kg and in the United States about 8100 L/kg.

WaterAid Chief Executive Rosie Wheen stated, “Industrial and agricultural use of water should not be prioritised over people’s ability to get water daily for their basic needs, particularly with climate change making things worse.”

The pervasive nature of water issues has been recently felt close to home, with water shortages affecting NSW and other areas across the country. Wheen explained that such issues are representative of a global water security crisis, saying, “It’s the same crisis in a different location. We need to resolve the crisis everywhere.

“An urgent understanding is needed to ensure that the push for economic development through exports of food and clothing do not imperil current and future generations’ access to water. There can be no sustainable economic development without sustainable and equitable access to water.”

Image courtesy of WaterAid

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