As the climate changes and droughts become more common, water conservation will become critical. And chances are you’re using a lot more water than you think you are.

World of water continents

Peter Hanlon of the Grace Communications Foundation says many people believe they use between 50 to 100 gallons of water each day.

Hanlon: “Which isn’t that far off if we’re talking direct water use.”

But the water out of our tap is just a tiny fraction of the water we use. When we add in the water used to produce the food we eat, fuel we burn, and products we buy, the total goes way up.

Peter Hanlon
Peter Hanlon

Hanlon: “We’re talking average somewhere around 2,000 gallons a day.”

So to help us better understand how much water we really use, Hanlon created an online water footprint calculator. This simple tool asks a series of questions like “How many miles do you drive?” and “How often do you eat meat?” and then estimates how much water you’re really using.

And most of that water is not coming from your local environment. Instead, it’s coming from all over the world, including places experiencing droughts.

Hanlon: “We have to think beyond just what’s coming out of our tap and think of water as kind of a universal resource.”

”The Click To Tweet

You can figure out how much water you’re using at

Reporting credit: Les Vonderlin/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Water continents photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
Water Footprint Calculator
Water Footprint Calculator (Español)
Water Footprint Calculator Methodology
Grace Communications Foundation

Lisa Palmer is a freelance journalist and a fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, SESYNC, in Annapolis, Md. Her writing covers the environment, energy, food security, agriculture,...