What’s your water footprint?

Domestic water consumption facts and water footprint calculation.

 Longing for a hot soak in a bath tub? Resist the temptation. For, you will expend nothing less than 200 litres of water. And that shower is not cheap either. Here’s how much water it costs…

Calculate your Water Footprint Source:liveearth.org

Ever wonder what that tap water you keep running while brushing your teeth adds up to? If it takes you two minutes to clean your pearlies, an astounding 10 litres!

Scary, isn’t it? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
According to S. Vishwanath, founder of the Rainwater Club, urban India’s per capita water consumption is around 135 litres daily. Estimates peg the consumption way higher at 167 litres by 2050.

And we’re not even talking about the wastage, which is hard to pin down as it depends on variable factors. A dripping tap can waste as much as 1 litre water an hour! If the leak is big, double and triple this number.
In India, a dishwasher is a luxury very few can and do afford. Your maid uses a good 20 litres of water to wash the utensils, more if she loves the sound of the water running while doing her chores. A dishwasher can cut the water you use to scour your dishes clean.

A study by scientists from Germany’s University of Bonn found that an efficient dishwater can actually help you use a lot less water – as much as one-sixth that washing utensils by hand does.

Did you know that 40 litres go down the drain every day in your home? Yes, that’s how much water flushing your toilets costs you daily, more so if you do not have a dual flush toilet. Install one for the times when a few drops is all you want to drop in the toilet. That doesn’t need a full blast flush.

The amount of water the toilet eats up in urban homes is quite a conscience-pricker, given that many people in rural areas live on as little as 10 litres of water or even less daily.

If your housemaid is washing your clothes by hand, she uses around 20 litres of water daily to do so. If you have a washing machine – an efficient and front-loading one that is – then you can use 40 litres water for a full 4-kg load. That could be a once or twice a week affair.
When it comes to water expenditure, a bath is the most expensive item on the list. A bucket bath costs you 20-25 litres of water. A shower is way more expensive at 100 litres for a five-minute wash with a standard shower head. You can cut down water use to about 35 litres with a low-flow shower heard. Economise further by turning the water on only for wetting your body and for rinsing off the soap and shampoo.

The romance of a scented soak in the bath tub doesn’t seem so romantic when you consider that 250-300 litres water is at stake! Thankfully, most urban homes don’t really have the space for the luxury of a bath tub. Else, we would have run out of water a long time ago.

Before your food lands on your plate, it uses up to 10 litres of water in cooking. About 4 litres quenches your thirst on an average day. In summers, of course, you will glug even more.

Gardens and pools also need a lot of the liquid, depending on their size. Then, there are cars that have to be washed and pets that have to be bathed.

According to estimates, in an average town of India, around 40 litres water is utilised per capita daily for industrial use, 25 litres for public use, 15 litres for dousing fires, and 55 litres accounts for wastage and water theft.

The next time you complain about the cost of a one-litre mineral water bottle, do remember what it would be like if you have to start paying for every little drop you use. It’s very much a possibility in the not-so-distant future.

Per capita daily water usage in urban homes:

Drinking                                  4-5 litres
Cooking                                     4-5 litres
Washing utensils                    10 litres
Floor mopping, cleaning       10 litres
Washing clothes                      20 litres
Flushing toilets                        40 litres
Bathing                                      55 litres

Click here to calculate your water footprint and find out yourself!


Catch Every Drop is a campaign on sustainable water conservation by The Alternative, sponsored by Arghyam, with partners India Water Portal and Biome Environmental Solutions.

Whether it is the Cauvery river dispute, the unregulated proliferation of bore wells or the death of Bangalore’s beautiful lakes, everyone has a story, an opinion or a question on water. While most people understand and recognize the importance of saving water, not everyone knows how to do it, or even what exactly they can do.

‘Catch Every Drop’ is a showcase of stories of pioneering water conservation work done by corporates, lake restoration groups, Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) and individuals in Bangalore. These stories, we hope, will inspire you to join this growing community of people who truly care about water, our planet’s most precious resource.

This informati0n has been put together with the help of Biome Environmental Solutions and adapted by Kirti Pandey.

Kirti is an unwriter, whose Attention Deficit Syndrome has kept her from getting bored of journalism even after 10-plus years in the field. She prefers the sword but finds the pen mightier when the topics are food, travel and books. more


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Kirti is an unwriter, whose Attention Deficit Syndrome has kept her from getting bored of journalism even after 10-plus years in the field. She prefers the sword but finds the pen mightier when the topics are food, travel and books. more

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  • Markus

    We use lots of water for drinking, cooking and washing, but even
    more for producing things such as food,
    paper, cotton clothes, etc.. (look at this website for a product gallery: http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/productgallery) The water footprint is an indicator of
    water use that looks at both direct and indirect water use of a
    consumer or producer. The water footprint of an individual, community
    or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater that
    is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or
    community or produced by the business. There is a water footprint calculator by the Water Footprint Network (www.waterfootprint.org) that you may want to check out: http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/YourWaterFootprint