Bring on the waterworks: how is water used in my watershed?
Water is a constant in our daily lives. We need it to drink, cook and clean. We need it for waste disposal, fire protection, watering our lawns and gardens and washing our cars. We also need water to grow our food. Farmers use water for watering crops and feeding livestock.
Animals that live on farms, wild animals, birds and pets all need clean water to drink. Studies have shown that cattle that have access to clean water are healthy and gain more weight. Fish and organisms that live in Lake Winnipeg and all the other lakes and rivers in Manitoba also need clean water for survival.
Water is used in many ways that you would never expect. The amount of water used to make a product is called “virtual water.” Large quantities of water are used to produce many of our daily goods. For example, it takes:
3 litres of water for a cow to produce 1 litre of milk
300 litres of water to produce 1 kilogram of paper
1,000 litres of water to grow 1 kilogram of potatoes
2,400 litres to make one (150g) hamburger
2,700 litres to make one (250g) cotton t-shirt
8,000 litres to make one pair of leather shoes
From making automobile tires to hamburgers, water is essential in almost every item we use.
The choices you make in the grocery store, shopping mall and when shopping online can make a difference. You can cut down the amount of virtual water you use by:
Planning groceries and meals better. Cutting down food waste cuts down water waste.
Reduce your use of paper.
Instead of printing things out, read them on your computer or phone
Limit the junk mail you receive by adding a sign to your mailbox
Use old rags or washable cloths instead of paper towels when cleaning
Buy used items, including clothes and electronics.