World Water Day is held every year on March 22 to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. With the severe drought that Texas suffered last year, and which is still continuing even while we’re under a flood watch, I think about water frequently.
The theme for World Water Day this year is food security. Only 20% of agricultural land in the world is irrigated, but it accounts for 40% of the global food production and 70% of water usage. This graph from a water 101 animation shows the growth in water use since 1950.
It takes about 700 gallons of water each day to take care of an individual’s needs, such as eating, drinking, washing, etc. Much of that water is virtual water – water which is embedded in the processes used to produce, process, manufacture, and transport goods. When virtual water is taken into account, global food production uses 92% of the world’s fresh water.
Simple changes in the way crops are irrigated and in our own diets can make a big difference. Meat and dairy products take more water to produce than grains and vegetables. Just increasing the proportion of vegetables in our diets can have an impact worldwide.
Irrigation photo via Shutterstock