Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Water Footprint

Provided below is an estimate of my water footprint per day during the month of September. There are two components to this estimate. The first is the actual water consumption as measured by the water meter. This includes water for cooking, showering, watering the yard, etc. The second is termed "virtual-water." Virtual-water content is the water embodied in a service or product, not in the real sense, but in the virtual sense. It refers to the volume of water consumed or polluted for producing the product, measured over its full production or service chain.

My estimate per day:
  • Water consumption at the water meter - - 231.35 gallons. September is a large water consumption month in Texas due to landscaping and lawn water needs.
  • Water consumption for food - - 446.56 gallons. Roughly twice the actual consumption. Examples include 1,857 gallons of water required per pound of beef and 400 gallons per pound of eggs. Estimate was based on actual food consumption for three meals.
  • Water consumption for drinks - - 230 gallons. The same as the actual water consumption. Examples include 55 gallons per glass of milk and nine for a cup of tea.
  • Water consumption for electricity - - 2,521 gallons. Electricity for lighting, appliances and air conditioning - - September is a high air conditioning demand month. My electricity comes from a nuclear power plant - - Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, located 60 miles south of Fort Worth. On average, 43,000 gallons of water are required to generate one megawatt-hour at a nuclear power plant. For comparison, a gas combined-cycle plant will require half to a third of the water required at a nuclear plant.
  • Water consumption for driving - - 6.3 gallons. For gasoline only - - roughly 10.50 gallons of water required per 100 miles of travel. For an ethanol vehicle - - the water consumption required is 400 times greater.
  • Water consumption for heat - - 2.5 gallons. Natural gas for heating water during the month of September.

Total water consumption for a day for me is estimated at 3,438 gallons. Basically for shelter, food, drink, and travel - - a trip to Wal-Mart and a purchase of a pair of jeans would have tagged me with another 2,900 gallons. The jeans would have almost doubled my total consumption.

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