How Much Water?

By Pam Lazos

Despite its ubiquitous nature, less than 1% of water is available for human use. The rest is salt water (oceans), frozen water (polar ice caps), or inaccessible water (groundwater that’s trapped). We need water to grow or produce everything we eat or drink as well as the products we use. How much water do we need? Some examples: 1 slice of bread – 1 gallon; 1 pound of chicken – 10 gallon; a cup of coffee – 2 gallons; 1 pound of corn – 50 gallons; 1 pound of eggs – 20 gallons; 1 pound of hamburger – 450 gallons; 1 sheet of paper – 3 gallons; a cotton shirt – 100 gallons; 1 pound of wheat – 60-100 gallons.

In an area with limited water resources, simply conserving water that comes from the tap may not be enough. A more sustainable lifestyle approach could help. For instance, would you change the type of food you eat, what clothes you buy, and what products you use, if you needed to pay an additional charge based on the amount of water used?

If the amount of water needed for one serving of beef was 450 times more than to produce one serving of bread, would you eat more bread and eat less beef? If you had to pay $30 for a hamburger, would you still buy one?

Thinking about the true cost of our lifestyle on the environment can be enlightening. What are the impacts of the choices we make? Armed with new knowledge, we can make decisions that are better for the environment. It makes perfect sense. It makes WaterSense. Tips for conserving water

About the author: Pam Lazos works in Region 3’s Office of Regional Counsel chasing water scofflaws and enforcing the Clean Water Act. In her free time, when her family allows, she writes both fact and fiction, but mostly she likes to laugh.