Water footprint

So here\’s a new thing for us to worry about. How much water in embedded in the imports that we use?

The study by the environment group WWF is the first attempt to discover the full scale of UK water consumption, or its "water footprint".

As well as water for drinking, cleaning and washing, it looks at hidden factors such as how much water is needed to grow food around the world and to make and transport goods.

It concludes that only 38 per cent of the water used by the UK comes from its own resources, with much of the rest coming from countries such as Spain and Morocco, which face serious shortages.

While the average UK household consumes almost 33 gallons a day for washing and drinking, it consumes about 30 times as much in "virtual water", used in the production of imported food and textiles.

And yes, horrors, we\’re top of the list for imports of such virtual water.

Given that we rely upon imports for more of our food than many other countries do this shouldn\’t be all that much of a surprise. It does take 1,000 tonnes of water to produce 1 tonne of wheat, after all.

It\’s also true that some of our imports come from places that are "water stressed". Say, cotton from certain parts of the Sahel. But growing cotton there is the highest value use of the water which is there: it\’s actually sensible that people use what water they have to grow said cotton.

This is simply another thing with which to berate us, not a thing that we should actually worry about.

4 thoughts on “Water footprint”

  1. Yup. The Australians (dryish continent) are huge net exporters of water-embedded-in-rice to South East Asia (where it chucks it down half the year), simply because Aus farmers are hyper efficient in the way they use water – apparently they level off their fields with lasers so as not to waste a drop. And they’ve got big flat fields and loads of machines.

  2. “another thing with which to berate us…”
    More likely Plan B for the return to the Stone Age, as the sticky (and chilly) end of AGW claptrap rapidly approaches.

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