SE Texas asking residents to conserve water

What is your water footprint? When it comes to water use and conservation, we typically think of the water we directly use in our daily life: bathing, laundry, dishes, toilets, etc.

Your water footprint isn’t just the water we use directly, but the combination of that along with the water we use indirectly.

Indirect use includes the amount of water needed to produce everyday items such as food, clothing, gas, electricity, and even the packaging these items come in.

As for the direct use, most of us use between 50 to 100 gallons of water each day, every single day. That’s between 18,000 and 36,000 gallons each year per person.

Here are some estimates of normal daily use: 20 gallons for shower; 50 to 75 gallons for a bath; 1.5 to 3 gallons each time we flush a toilet; 4 to 5 gallons for a dishwasher cycle; 15 to 45 gallons to wash a load of clothes.

Now, lets talk about some indirect usage. How often do you purchase a soda, sports drink, or bottle of water?

That bottle containing the beverage you purchased likely took about 1.5 gallons of water to produce. That’s typically 3 to 5 times more than what the bottle actually contains.

When taking into consideration indirect water use in food production, the amount of water used to grow the item and the amount of water used in processing it is included.

At a glance

How can we reduce water waste and shrink our water footprint? First, be water wise at home:

 Take shorter showers;

 Run full loads in the dishwasher and clothes washer;

 Fix leaking faucets and toilets immediately;

 Do not let the water run while brushing your teeth; and

 Only water the lawn when absolutely necessary and do it by hand, not with sprinklers (you will cut the amount of water used in half).

Reducing our indirect use isn’t quite as easy, but by being aware of our indirect water usage we can try to reduce our water use footprint even more. Ways to reduce your indirect water footprint:

 Replace appliances with high efficiency models when possible;

 Use a cold water detergent for the laundry to cut down on hot water use;

 Recycling a single plastic bottle and newspaper can save as much as 5 gallons;

 Eat less beef, swap coffee for tea (37 gallons for a cup of coffee – only 8 gallons for tea), cut down on sugars, and eat less processed food;

 When not needed, turn off lights and TVs; and

 Consider solar and wind options for your electric needs.

Follow these tips for water conservation and you’ll make your home a water conscience house. Form more information on calculating your water footprint visit

Any idea how much water is needed to create 1 cup of coffee? Thirty-seven gallons of water are needed to grow and process the coffee beans for that 1 cup of coffee.

An almond needs 1.1 gallons of water per almond, or about 1,900 gallons per pound.

A cheese sandwich adds up to about 35 gallons of water. That includes the water required to grow wheat and to make the cheese.

What wasn’t included in that cheese sandwich was the amount of water needed to create the energy to cook the sandwich. Most energies also take quite a bit of water to create and make available for use.

It is such a complex and dynamic process that it has its own term — the water/energy nexus.

It is estimated that 45% of water used in the United States is related to thermoelectric power generation.

Each type of thermoelectric energy has different water demands associated with it.

Another type of energy is gasoline. An average tank of gasoline needs 18 to 45 gallons of water for processing.

We mentioned that the average person uses between 18,000 to 36,000 gallons of water each year, direct use.

Overall, it is a fraction of our total water footprint. It is estimated that the average per-person’s water footprint in Japan is more than 303,000 gallons per year.

Think that is a lot? Here in the United States, it is estimated to be 660,430 gallons per year, per person.

Written by John Martin

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