By Nemi Vora, edited by Ben Briston
The fourth annual “Imagine a Day Without Water” water awareness day took place on Wednesday, October 10, 2018. The Environmental and Water Resources Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Pittsburgh Section, once again joined the effort to raise awareness about how water is essential, invaluable, and worthy of investment.
The Pittsburgh region has been experiencing above average high-intensity rainfall events, so it may be difficult to imagine a day without water. Though our region may be water rich, we are using more water than we think, albeit indirectly. We consume water from all over the country and the world through the products and services we use. A standard (1.5 oz) chocolate bar requires on average 197 gallons of water to produce; a large egg requires around 52 gallons of water, and 1 lb of beef requires on average 1,847 gallons of water. [1, 2] In fact, an average American uses 750 thousand gallons of water as part of the goods and services consumed over a year, and, of the water we consume, 20% comes from products produced outside the U.S.A., mainly China.
Imaging a day without water can be difficult in Pittsburgh due to more frequent, intense rainfall events, but it is essential to recognize our reliance on water outside of this region. We are indeed connected to the world through the products we consume and should be conscious of the fact that the places that produce these goods face water scarcity. Next time you buy a product, look at the packaging to see where it's coming from. Doing so may help to reduce over-consumption and waste of water.
1. Mekonnen, M.M. and A.Y. Hoekstra, The green, blue and grey water footprint of crops and derived crop products. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 2011. 15(5): p. 1577-1600.
2. Mekonnen, M. and A. Hoekstra, The green, blue and grey water footprint of farm animals and animal products. 2010.
3. Mekonnen, M. and A.Y. Hoekstra, National water footprint accounts: the green, blue and grey water footprint of production and consumption. 2011.