If you think your morning cup of joe only has 12 ounces (35 centiliters) of water in it, you’re sorely mistaken—it has closer to 40 gallons (150 liters). Conservation scientists say it’s time consumers become aware of the quantity and source of water that goes into growing, manufacturing and shipping food.

As currently defined, a product’s water footprint is an inventory of the total amount of water that goes into its manufacture. For that cup of coffee, for instance, most of the 40 gallons flow either into watering coffee plants or cooling the roasters during processing.

The water footprint is designed to help consumers and businesses understand just how much water is required to make products like a cotton T-shirt or a can of corn. But according to Ridoutt, just counting gallons is not enough, because consumers also value where that water came from. Corn grown in Minnesota, for example, depends on rainwater, which is abundant and not otherwise used by people. But in Arizona corn crops depend on scarce reservoir water also used for drinking, hygiene and other consumer needs. The current definition of the water footprint doesn’t address these discrepancies.

What is your water footprint? What is Floyd County’s and how could we reduce our water use at home and locally? We only get what falls as rain on Floyd’s elevated plateau. Using less conserves the surplus from winter’s excess to see us through summer’s shortages.

Read More…in Scientific American

Read about Floyd’s Source Water Protection Plan