The water footprint measures the amount of water used to produce each of the goods and services a business provides. It can be measured for a single process, such as growing rice, for a product, such as a pair of jeans, for the fuel used in vehicles, or for an entire company.

The water footprint allows us to answer a broad range of questions for companies, such as:

  • Where is the water dependence in my company’s operations or supply chain?
  • Can my business be at risk because of water problems in other places of the world?
  • Can I do something to reduce my own business water footprint and help manage water for both people and nature?

The water footprint looks at both direct and indirect water use of a process, product, company or sector and includes water consumption and pollution throughout the full production cycle from the supply chain to the end-user.

Therefore the water footprint allows you to understand where water resources are being used and polluted to produce the materials and services you buy from others to manage your business.

The water footprint has three components: green, blue and grey.

Together, these components provide a comprehensive picture of water use by delineating the source of water consumed, either as rainfall/soil moisture (green water) or surface/groundwater (blue water), and the volume of fresh water required for assimilation of pollutants (grey water) when, for instances, producing a product you trade in your business.

By measuring the volume and source of water consumed in the production of a product we understand how productively freshwater resources are being used – that is, how many units of production have resulted from each litre of water used. This measure of resource efficiency can be applied to both the amount of water consumed, the green and blue water footprint, and the amount of assimilation capacity used, the grey water footprint. If we produce a product with a smaller grey water footprint, we have put less pressure on the freshwater resource and contributed less to water quality degradation.

For more information on the water footprint please visit http://waterfootprint.org/