Do you linger in the shower? Do you let the water run while you shave or brush your teeth?
Do you prefer a T-bone to tofu?
How do you commute to work? By bike or by car?
Do you have a green lawn that requires regular sprinkling, or native plants that get along on whatever rain falls on them?
Lifestyle choices – some of them big conscious decisions, some of them preferences and habits that are part of our culture and the environment in which we live – determine how much water we all consume.
Several organizations maintain on-line water-use calculators that allow users to plug in information about themselves and get back an estimate of how much water they use on a daily basis.
But be prepared for a surprise. You will find the calculators estimating you use much more than the 60 to 100 gallons a day usually cited as the per capita average residential water use across the United States.
The on-line calculators employ the concept of “virtual water” to estimate the total amount of water that goes into producing and processing the food we eat and other products we consume. The country in which you live and the diet you choose for yourself are huge factors in how big a demand you place on water resources.
Here are links to two on-line water calculators:
One is operated by Waterfootprint.org, a Web site maintained by Twente University in the Netherlands and the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education.
The second is operated by H2OConserve.org, a project supported by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility; GRACE, a nonprofit environmental organization; Food & Water Watch; and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.