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What Is a Water Footprint? Water Footprints Explained


Happy World Water Day! 

Water is utilized in every aspect of life, from producing the food we eat to the clothes we wear, everything requires water in some way, shape, or form. 

World Water Day is held on March 22nd every year. It is a United Nations (UN) observance day that highlights the importance of fresh water and the urgency for sustainable management of freshwater resources. This year’s theme is “GROUNDWATER – MAKING THE INVISIBLE VISIBLE”, which aims to show how groundwater affects our everyday lives. 

One way to learn your impact on groundwater resources is to understand your water footprint. 

What is a Water Footprint?

Water footprints are defined as a measure of society’s use of fresh water in volumes of water consumed and/or polluted.  

There are 3 main types of water footprints; blue, green, and grey. Let’s dive into what each of these means.  

Types Of Water Footprints 

The blue water footprint is water that has been sourced from surface or groundwater resources and is either evaporated, incorporated into a product or taken from one body of water and returned to another, or returned at a different time. 

Agriculture, industry, and domestic water use can have a blue water footprint.  

The green water footprint is water from precipitation that is stored in the root zone of the soil and is evaporated, transpired, or incorporated by plants.  

The green water footprint is especially relevant for the agricultural, horticultural, and forestry industries. 

The grey water footprint is the amount of fresh water needed to assimilate pollutants to meet specific water quality standards.  

The grey water footprint includes pollution discharged to a freshwater resource directly through a pipe or indirectly through runoff or leaching from the soil, impervious surfaces, or other sources.  

Water Footprint Facts:

  • The water footprint of US citizens is 2840 cubic meters per year per capita. About 20% of this water footprint is external (outside of the US). The largest external water footprint of US consumption is in the Yangtze River Basin, China.
  • The United States’ total water footprint is made of 69% green, 8% blue, and 22% grey.
  • Water scarcity affects almost 3 billion people for at least one month each year.
  • 3 in 10 people lack access to safe drinking water and 6 in 10 people lack access to safely managed sanitation facilities.
  • Over 80% of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers and seas without any treatment or pollution removal

Does your organization need help taking control of your water footprint? The FigBytes Water Stewardship Solution tracks, measures, and manages water risks and impacts across your organization. FigBytes gives you full control to take the lead as a responsible water steward. 

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